The day began as usual--three young children and two adults trying to get dressed, brush teeth, pack lunches, and use the potty with as little conflict as possible. Always a monstrous feat, usually including a few tears--sometimes mine, sometimes theirs. Once we loaded the anxious bunch into the blue bling we were set--off to Hanging Rock state park. Though with the whines ringing from behind us, my husband and I silently asked ourselves, "Is this really worth it?!" But we pressed on.
With google directions in hand we were on our way--our windows filled with colors of orange, red, pink, yellow, and green. Absolutely beautiful. The houses became more scattered as the view of the mountain came into sight. The little road curved around the distant mount as we looked longingly at its peak. Passed the lone donkey and then the goat farm, we reached the perfect picture. "Babe, stop for just a sec so I can get a shot." Gorgeous. As we started again following typically-faithful, satellite directions, our "turn in point 5 miles" was actually a dirt road with barricades and signs reading, "Road closed. Keep out." Hmmmm.
The kids were now starting to be more opinionated, "I'm hungry. When are we going to be there. My tummy hurts." So far, so good. I systematically sprawled over the 80 things we had brought for our half-day trip, and passed out a peace offering of nuts and goldfish. Then I looked at my calm man and asked, "Now where?" He continued driving with his internal GPS; and in less than 20 minutes we had made it to the state park entrance. The cheers from the passengers resounded.
After a quick potty break and a look in the visitor's center, we suited up for the one mile hike to the top of the rock. We were familiar with the ascent--a short span of concrete, followed by an upward rocky section, then a brief flat trail, finished with a steep portion of rock "stairs," until 'ahhhh' one reaches the top. So we were off.
Within 5 minutes--literally--the words a mother dreads to hear broke the quiet rustling of leaves, "Mommy, I need to go p**py." Seriously, are you kidding? We just went to the bathroom! Thankfully I had packed wipes. So we went off trail and my daughter did her business where snakes probably reside, when my son said, "I need to go too." THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, RIGHT?! After our brief pit stop amidst spider webs, we finally emerged back on the trail where my husband and little guy patiently waited.
We made it about halfway up the first rocky section when the inevitable began, "I am tired." "Me too." As my daughter and I, hand-in-hand, continued ahead, I faintly heard my husband encourage my son from behind, "So what are you going to do when it gets really tough up here? Are you going to quit or keep on going until you reach the top?" I want to quit, I thought. "I am going to keep going," declared my son. "That's my boy," my husband said, "We will keep going until we reach the top. Then we can look down and say 'We did it!'" "We did it!" my son valiantly repeated. And so I was inspired.
When my daughter started to complain I said, "You know, we will only get to the top of this mountain one step at a time. I know you can do it. I am right beside you holding your hand." After a few moments of quiet contemplation she started to sing a song she instantly wrote in her head, "Keep walkin' and never stop. We're gonna get to the Hangin' Rock." And again I was inspired...now with a song in our step.
We reached the top of the rock at lunchtime--though to the kids' dismay our lunches were in the car...at the bottom of the mountain. Thankfully I had packed a small snack and water to tide us over. After a short rest with an amazing view we decided to head back down. Once the parking lot was finally in view, a tired bunch became invigorated with the thoughts of a cool drink and sandwiches; and they started to run.
Thirty minutes later, after everyone was situated, we began to drive away. With quiet munching as the backdrop, I found myself reflecting: We will face mountains in this life--you can expect it--but the way to the top is with one sure-footed step at a time, all the while having our gaze set on the One guiding our path, the One holding our hand. Our mountains are but a grain of sand in light of His pursuing and powerful love.