He Leads Me
I committed half-heartedly to the idea of climbing the small mountain. I’m not in any shape to be climbing anything, let alone a heavily wooded mountainside. But in a rare feat of misplaced athletic courage I grabbed my tennis shoes and followed along.
My father’s family roots cling to those West Virginia mountains. So when he asked the family to join him at a new piece of property and a tiny one room cabin we all piled in cars and made the 6 hour drive.
My father had yet to explore all of the 52 acres of the new land and wanted to take on the mountain which gracefully slopes into a creek in the cabin’s backyard. I grew up following my father through the woods. He taught me how to step quietly onto a bed of dry leaves, what he called “walking like an Indian.” So, in what I thought was a move made to ensure his safety, I joined him for the hike. I quickly learned that the man, some call a mountain goat, was much more agile than myself.
We walked up a small road resembling a gravel driveway and searched for the best spot to cross the creek. After taking into consideration the span of the shallow creek bed and the length of my stubby legs, we made a choice and I made a wobbly jump. We walked through a sunlit grove of ferns and then began our ascent. It started quickly as I followed behind my father’s footsteps. Making sure to place my own feet in his footholds, I stayed right behind, at least for a little while. Then as I began to gasp for breath he slowed down to a moderate pace.
The quiet man who raised me impressed me with his stamina and strength. He easily made his way to the first bench or flat ledge on the mountainside. He climbed while talking to me and pointing out deer trails, the best place for a stand, last season’s tree rubs, evidence of a passing bear, and the picturesque beauty of the scene. Meanwhile, I stumbled behind him unable to speak between the rapid huffing and puffing and grasping onto every nearby tree to haul myself up. But if there is one thing the man instilled in me it was my own sense of pride. So thanks to that stubborn pride I pushed myself upward.
The man whose eyesight had required glasses for many years and whose hearing had deteriorate a long time ago boasted super human senses in those woods. My father stopped me mid-climb to point out a deer he could see bedded down 300 yards from where we stood. He indicated the direction the animal was facing, the black nose I should clearly be able to see, and the flip of each ear. I assured him I was joining him in the awe inspiring moment and view. But to be honest I saw a bunch of trees and what I would assume was a stump in the distance. I’ve never been a hunter and have never had the passion for developing those skills. This difference between my father and I is great. I grew up demanding he allow each animal a fighting chance, never allowing him to take part in “release and shoot” hunts I considered inhumane. And as the father of all girls, he complied.
The man I consider my closest ally is also a huge mystery to me. He quietly sits on a porch until a thought sparks and he is off and running with his latest project. He rarely leads a conversation only sits and listens until the perfect timing for a joke or his deepest philosophical input.
Climbing a mountain with my father was not an easy task. I was winded for hours and felt the complaints of my muscles for days. But while most of our time was spent in silence, I knew that those moments together were spiritual. The child who had followed in every one of his footsteps would continue to do so throughout the rest of my life. The man God gave me as a father lead me through each obstacle in those woods, breaking twigs off to prevent them from whipping me, and reaching out a hand to grab me as I landed off-balance. He helped me to see the beauty when my own eyes could not find the detail. That trip was a testament to the father God made him and his own father before.
As a parent, God expects us to guide our children through rough terrain and protect them from the backlash of their own mistakes or lack of experience. The Lord expects us to steady a child’s wobbly gait and help them to walk a straighter path. But of all the lessons we are responsible for, parents must teach our children to see the beauty of the world even when it is hard to find. Give them a grateful heart and help them to see the blessings and miracles He gives to us each day.
Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Mariah proudly holds a Bachelor of Science of Communications/Investigative Broadcast News from Kent State University, as well as, multiple certificates of study from Ohio State University, and Texas A&M.Please visit www.mariahglynn.com or search @awesomesauceguru on FaceBook to share in more of her stories.