My son often spoke of the spectacular view from Mill Mountain near Roanoke, Virginia. Several days ago, after locking the door to his apartment, Justin and I walked to my SUV. “Mom, how about driving to the look-out before we leave for Richmond? I’d really like you to see the view.”
Minutes later, we were driving on a narrow road that curled its way up the steep and heavily wooded mountain. “Justin, look how far you can see into the forest,” I said as my eyes beheld beautiful rock formations and waterfalls usually hidden by dense vegetation.
Justin gazed out his window at the woods’ treasures. “You know, Mom, if you walk through this forest when the leaves are out, you can’t see anything else in the woods – not even another person who might be only 20 feet away. You could easily think you’re all alone in there.”
“But once the leaves come down, you can see everything clearly—even someone walking a quarter-mile away.”
Slowing the SUV as we approached a sharp curve, I noted the absence of guard rails as I looked down the steep drop-off just feet away. A car could go over the side and no one would know if the foliage was out! Heart pounding, I looked quickly back at the road.
“Mom,” his voice pausing, “this forest is just like a person’s life.”
“What do you mean, Justin?”
“Well, everyone has problems, but when we keep them to ourselves, it’s like we’re surrounded by thick foliage that makes us feel isolated. The leaves also keep others from seeing what we’re going through.”
I nodded, taking in the wisdom of Justin’s analogy.
“But when we speak about our problems, the leaves fall to the ground and we realize that we’re not alone in the woods; other people – people with all kinds of problems - are walking just feet away. Once we share our experiences, we can see things more clearly. Then we can find the path that leads us out of the forest.”
“Mom, if I hadn’t told Megan about the problem I was going through, I’d never have known that she’d gone through the same thing. And I’d still be in that forest, unable to see that someone close to me had already been there and found the way out.”
We reached the mountaintop and stood silently, our view of the valley and surrounding mountains unobstructed, until a piercing wind hurried us back to the warmth of our vehicle. Together, just an arm’s width apart, we found our way down the rugged mountain road.
“Ready to go home, son?” I asked when we reached the gently rolling valley that spread out before us.
“Ready, Mom. The road we need is right up ahead.” Justin turned toward me and smiled.
Are you allowing foliage to make you feel alone, afraid, overwhelmed, discouraged? Do you feel like a failure? Do you think you’re the only one going through a rough time?
Cut that foliage down today. There’s more people in the woods with you than you could ever imagine.
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
But if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV)
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Photographs by Cynthia Howerter © 2013