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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Precarious Position

My husband and I were talking about the spiritual significance of a hiking experience we had about six years ago in Arches National Park. We were on a weekend getaway and wanted to hike to the Delicate Arch overlook. We had heard that the hike to the overlook was relatively easy, so off we went. We had been advised by others who had been on the hike before, to make sure to look for the stacked cairns along the way. For this hike, in particular, cairns were especially important, since the slickrock trail was so undefined. A few miles into the hike, we stopped seeing the cairns, but didn't worry too much, since we had a good view of the arch itself. We figured we must still be going the right way. As we got within a half mile or so of the arch, we saw a small path on the side of a red wall of stone. We figured that this was our path, so we commenced to follow the wall towards the arch. Somehow we did not notice that the further along the path we walked, the narrower the path became. Several yards in, we noticed that we were walking a pathway not any wider than the shoes we were wearing!

We suddenly felt very foolish and very much in danger. How on earth did we not realize the danger that we had been in? I looked down and saw a steep, slickrock drop of well over 100 feet. Paralyzed with fear at my predicament, I simply couldn't find the courage to move. My brave husband quickly scampered away from the wall, then turned and found me plastered to the wall, holding on with all my might. He came back out onto the narrow path, took my hand, and we gingerly moved back to safety.

To this day, I still get physically ill to think of how close we came to disaster. Once we had reached the wider part of the path, we started searching for the correct route. To our surprise, it was only a few feet away from us, on the other side of the wall which we had been clinging to so desperately. The path there was well guarded with ropes. We quickly made our way to the overlook. When we had seated ourselves, we sat for a long time, in awe of the beautiful view, thankful for the protection we had been given.

The thing about this experience that still befuddles me, is that we never knew what danger we were in, until we were already in such a vulnerable, precarious position. How could we have not known that the path would narrow so? How could we not see, that this dangerous, narrow path could not possibly be safe? We never knew what danger we were placing ourselves in, until it was almost too late! We were never trying to be reckless, but our carelessness just about led to serious injury, or even death.

How often do we "wake up" to the reality of our spiritual situations, also perplexed about how we got ourselves into such situations? I don't think that we always find ourselves knee-deep in sin, because we were being reckless, but like our hike, if we don't constantly look for the cairns of gospel truth and guidance, it can be easy to lose our ways.

Anyway, I am grateful for the "cairns" in my life: the holy scriptures, a living prophet, good church leaders, and the gift of personal revelation through the Holy Ghost. I hope that whenever I do find myself in trouble, I can be kept from danger, through the Atonement, and take the Savior's hand as He offers to lead me back to safety. I hope I can follow Him, for I know that He is the only way to get to my ultimate destination: eternal life.


Tamaran said...

Just letting you know I'm still here :) Also, I really needed this post and the quote you posted.

I'm struggling with knowing how to love the sinner and hate the sin, how do I forgive-without condoning. This helped me to take a different perspective. Thanks.

K Walton said...

Thanks, Tamaran. I'm glad you're still here, even though I've been sort of a slacker lately. I think that is such a hard lesson to learn--I know I'm still struggling with that one myself. It's reassuring to know that the Atonement is based on love and understanding, not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones, as well. It was wonderful to find the quote for me, because it is evidence to me, that the Atonement was designed for people dealing with imperfection. Such a relief! I am so thankful for the gospel...it truly brings me hope!