Yesterday I took my 19 year old daughter with me to fulfill one of my bucket list items. It was a dream from childhood fullfilled. I used to look at the hills surrounding our western Kentucky home and long to climb to the top and see what things looked like from up high. It was one of those little girl dreams that my Dad would say, "we'll do that one day," and by the time I was old enough to do it myself I thought well, I'll do it later. Recently, as an adult, as I would drive down a rural highway where I live, I would look up at those really steep hills and remember that feeling of wonder, that idea of wonder Would it be thrilling when I got to the top and looked down.
This journey we're on to heal our families' disease of addiction is so interesting. We were so busy dealing with the addict...trying to fix or change him, that we forgot who we were. It wasn't only addiction that robbed us, it was also being a wife and mother, being a boss, day in and day out routines. It was mixing up our priorities. It was not being in tune with God. It was planning our day and thinking that we were in control of it. Al anon has taught me to take care of myself. It has taught me to look to God to let him restore me to sanity. My son's addiction brought me to Alanon. That program taught me how to live my life. It taught me how to be a member of my family and how to realize that God was in control. When I finally understood that and let go, I was able to live MY life...finally. With that realization, my child-like curiosities, excitements, longings, faith and hopes seemed to return.
This is how we arrived at that hill, my mountain to conquer. My daughter was looking very stylish in her cute little jeans and trendy sweater. She had her jeans tucked into her Ugg boots. Her hair and makeup were just right. I had discussed this little trip with her before and she was game. My son who was home visiting, thought about going but the new job left such a large number of blisters on his feet that he bowed out. I say to my daughter, "do you want to go change...put on tennis shoes or rubber boots?" "No, she says,these are comfortable, they'll be fine." "Okay", I say. Aren't you proud of me? Before I might have gone off on a tirade about stating just how foolish she was. Now, I offer a suggestion and realize that life is often times our best teacher.
My daughter, Miss Glass Half Empty, and I are off and she is concerned about our eminent arrest for tresspassing, being shot by a hunter or falling to our death. I just laugh and tell her to enjoy the adventure. If we get arrested, it'll just make for a better story. I don't think we'll get shot this close to the road and I'm sure we can just roll back down the hill if we have to. She is not amused. But we are off. First we must cross the creek. We have to find a shallow section to cross before starting our climb. We take pictures of our hill. We get across this creek and I am starting to see my daughter as a city girl. She is complaining about the brush, the slippery leaves, the beggar lice, and oh my the hair.....anything that messes up the hair! We start to ascend. It soon gets steep enough that we need to reach for small trees to hang onto and use them to pull ourselves up and grab onto the next branch. I start feeling all of the 20 lbs of fudge that I must have consumed over the holidays. My pulse is pounding so loud that I can't hear anything anymore. We must stop to rest.
These hills can make you feel like giving up. They make you physically tired. Emotionally you are concerned about the unknown....how will you get down without falling and being unable to stop? We keep climbing. Then I get my foot caught in old tangled barbed wire. It causes me to fall, which makes you keep sliding on those leaves that are blanketing that muddy hillside. As soon as you fall, you must find something to hold onto so that you can stop the fall. I am now covered in mud. My daughter isn't sure if she should laugh or be worried....she opts for cautious laughter. I get up brush off what I can and with bruised ego in tow, keep pushing forward. We think that we're at the top until my daughter notices to our left another hill still taller. We decide that we must go to the top of that hill to have really conquered our mountain. Off we go and we get close to the top of the hill and we see tents just over the hill and a fire burning. We decide that it's time to head back down the hill. We take more pictures and plan the best route back down.
The descent is much faster, like it or not. We get most of the way down when my daughter very proudly states that she is gonna make it down without a fall. She has yet to learn that making those statements is like tempting God. He must just need a good chuckle when we get too proud of ourselves. I hear a gasp and watch my daughter using both hands hanging on to a small tree, feet dangling down the hill. Then I see blue, blittered nails slide all the way down to the trunk of that tiny tree. All I could do was laugh. It was a laugh so deep and loud that it echoed through those hills. After my tongue lashing, we continue down and she falls again. The old gal fell once. The youngster fell twice....but she looked good doing it. Oh what fun!
You might ask, "How was the view?" It was beautiful. But, the climb, the journey...it held so many ups and downs and surprises. It brought challenges and little triumps. It brought joy and laughter. God, who created that hill and each leaf on that ground, teaches us, still today, with parables everywhere, if only you look at each moment as an opportunity from God. He tries each day to teach us so much. With every new bit of knowledge comes insight and joy. This all came to me from a desire that I had as a young girl to climb a hill. When I listened to that desire, I had an adventure. I learned about completing a journey on a concrete level. I got to poke fun at my daughter. I hope she learned that the jeans and the hair and makeup aren't nearly as important as the experience. There was no Rocky Balboa music playing as we made it to the top. It didn't make the papers. But, it was fun. It was a good memory to put in my pocket. I'll tell my grandkids one day, when they are teenagers how silly their mom was. It is a happy time, a treasure.
Today I have a prayer of thanksgiving for the joy and peace that comes when you stop planning and start trying to follow the plans that God has for you. I am thankful for so much. I pray for my son to keep staying strong. I am praying for the health of all of my family. I pray for continued direction. And, I pray for Henry. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen