As mothers and daughters choreograph a new dance for the teen years, they often end up stepping on each other’s toes or hoping another partner will break in and redirect them to a new spot on the dance floor. For my daughter and me, I have come to recognize that Nature has our best therapist and spiritual director the last few years.
Now, while my daughter is not a hands-in-the-earth kind of girl, she will throw on some tennis shoes or Chacos, braid her hair into ponytails, and hit the trails with me. We’ve both experienced a few “lessons learned” on these walks, and she has even come to ask, “So what’s going to show up on your blog after this hike?” (And before you think she is interested in what I have to say here, I’ll remind you she’s almost 16.)
Yesterday, we set out on a new trail she’d never experienced before. It’s an easy walking path called the Pink Beds near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Named for all of the blooming rhododendron and mountain laurel that grace the trails in summer, it winds 5.1 miles through fields, across mountains, and over several creeks.
As looked at the map, we decided we would only hike the blue section then turn around at its end and come back. That’s what we decided but apparently, not what the Creator had in mind. Needless to say, when we stopped seeing the blue markers, we continued along the orange which happened to be the full loop offering us much time and opportunity to just hang out and hike.
I will admit that I began to wonder when she’d start asking the age old question, “Are we there yet?” I imagined her getting bored or tired much earlier into the walk. Yet, she carried on, teasing me about stopping to photograph something symbolic or reminiscing about funny memories from hikes we’ve shared in the past. (Don’t get her started on the time I got her to hike a mile straight up to Devil’s Courthouse, and we had to run down in a torrential downpour!)
As we reached what I now know was about the halfway mark on the trail, it dawned on me–this long hike offered us the gift of time and presence. Time to truly put the day-to-day behind us. Presence to focus less on ourselves and more on our connection as family.
As we rounded the last bend and spotted the bridge where we started, I felt a sense of bittersweetness well up in my soul. While I congratulated my child on her accomplishing her longest hike and completing another trail on our list, I also wanted to reach out and hold her tightly in the moment, never letting it fade.
And so yes, my dear daughter, I will not disappoint. I am, as you so eloquently (and sarcastically) put it, “sharing our journey” on the blog. And God willing, one day you will read it and smile gratefully at my doing so.