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Hiking Through Lent

This morning I got lost on a hike. As I listened to Tara Brach talk about fear through my headphones, I watched the sun rise. For these things, I say thanks to Sunday’s and to weekend rejuvenation.

If you had told me short of a year ago, I would enjoy waking up before the sun for a hiking excursion in the state of Tennessee, I would have likely laughed. But, I guess the jokes on me. Here I am, wandering the ways of Nashville, TN, starring at a sunrise I otherwise might have never seen.

It’s been 6 months since I embarked on this new journey and moved to Nashville. It’s hard to believe six short months ago, I started out with what felt like next to nothing. It’s amazing what you learn you can live without and then again what you truly need.

It has not been an easy transition as all change brings chaos; stirring up the past and complicating the views of the future. Some days are challenging to remember my path and my purpose. But, I continue to rise most mornings grateful there is air in my lungs and strength in my soul.

Unprecedented change makes for unpredictable feelings. Many feelings which I had bottled up for years seemed to come pouring out when I was alone, in an unfamiliar place, and with nothing more than a few boxes of books and clothes. Over the past few months I have managed to acquire the necessities one needs for living. Many of which are physical possessions and things. But the rest seems to be more embodied acceptance necessary for survival.

As I experienced this morning come into being, I thought about my own humanity. It has not been long since I took my life into my own hands. This is not something I share much about, but surviving a suicide attempt changes your perspective. A sunrise is no longer a beautiful view, but a call for resurrection. As I faced the light for my day, it reflected life. It was my very own reflection starring back at me.

Today marks the first Sunday of Lent, a time of self-reflection and lament. It is often considered a season of darkness. Something I am all too familiar with. The season of Lent reminds me of walking a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a path that requires you to go in and come out the same way in which you entered. It is a journey towards the center, then back out again, into the world to which you came. You cannot skip the part you did not like, or go around a difficult feeling, you must return the exact way you entered. But, even though the path does not change, you have, and in this we find new life.

To me this is the story of Easter, the truth of resurrection. We are travelers, seekers, and wanders who have likely lost our way. But in the process of returning we find ourselves. Faced with a choice to accept or deny, there is only one way out of darkness.

I would like to tell you the pathway out is easier then that which led you in, but no journey is ever easy. In fact, when I went to find my way back after watching the stunning sunrise, I began to panic, as I did not know which path had led me there. Fear took over, and I almost forgot the feelings of gratitude I had experienced moments before. Tara Brach teaches that fear can often become the core of our identity, constricting our capacity to live, and limiting our ability to see beyond. But, when I stopped and remembered where I came from, I could once again see my way out. As they say when you are marked as people of resurrection, “from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” And, I hope to always be in the process of returning, on the journey towards resurrection.

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