Journey to the Manger

Advent slips in without much fanfare as hunters head off long before the break of dawn. As they stand in the wetlands of my son’s new home state, my daughter and I sip coffee and prepare for our Sunday morning journey. Most Sundays you’ll find the two of us worshipping within the walls of our churches, but not today. Today we plan to hike to the top of the peak that keeps drawing our attention from here below.

We make a quick stop at the visitor’s center where the volunteer encourages us, “The weather’s perfect and the trail is totally doable for you.”

And so our journey begins.

The sun shines bright as we make our way up the well worn trail. Strangers come and go along the way. Our dogs sniff and scurry as we sit to rest before the final push. We climb, we rest, we climb some more. By professional hiking standards this is an easy trail, but for us it is a challenge. Each step has my complete focus. No looking up. No turning back. Up and up we go, step by step, until finally we stand tall to take in the view.

As I passed by her to the farthest edge the question came, “Did you notice I’m not scared?” Until this very  moment, until the words came out of my mouth, I hadn’t noticed either. Wait? What did I just say? Is it even true?

I take notice of my heart rate, my breathing, my thoughts. No panic rising from within. No thoughts of falling off the side to my death. Nothing. This is new. I’m not even sure what to do with it. Oh my word! How is this possible? 

Pinnacle peak

She snaps the picture and I revel in the joy of the moment. I’ll not remember this moment as the end of a long hard climb, nor an arrival at my final destination. It is both a beginning and an end. A sign of surprise transformation I choose to embrace here and now, and wonderful way to usher in this first day of the Advent season.

Won’t you join me here on the blog as I mark my Advent journey with photos and words. Like signs pointing me to the birthplace of the Savior, I’ll share them with you. And maybe you’ll have a sign to drop in the comments too as we make our way together to the manger.

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