Off a road we never travelled,
the empty lot for the trailhead parking
seemed eager for a visitor
on a mild day in March.
Bits of snow lay untouched on the path
and painted the forest floor in patches.
The sunshine felt as new as the trail
after months locked indoors.
The rocky way relied on blazes
and our old feet relied on memory
of many hikes over many years, those
with less expectation of falling.
There are wonders to be seen.
Inside and out there are vistas.
Now the tree growing out of a rock
seems like a personal statement.
Now the stone like the Stone Table
has a deep spiritual history.
Now the slab like a stage
is pondered from erotic to sublime.
Now the muddy flats speak of
foreign places and mysterious art,
while the destination creek flows
with thoughts for the future.
It is always striking how the way into
the unknown of a new forest seems long.
How far is it? Should we keep going?
How can we gauge the effort this takes?
Yet the way back through the now
familiar landscape, dotted with experience
like patches of snow, seems short, soon to
embolden an unknown route back home.
Just a bit of courage to try
a new path and the interior landscape
feels the breeze of a spring thaw
where it is frozen with fear and doubt.
Though the pilgrimage of Lent seems long
in a year so hard and fraught,
so many days it seems like a short way
back to the home You make for us.
And even when my courage seems so small
and the mud of spring annoying,
You move me to stay on the way of the heart:
that old unknown end, always a familiar new end
marking the trailhead of hope.