Trail


Walking the trail around Lake Elkhorn, or any other trail, can be a fantastic learning moment. Lots of life lessons abound by simply being on the trail. Columbia has a lot of trails, and although I have walked on several of them, I am most familiar with the trail surrounding Lake Elkhorn. I like to walk around the lake and then make my way to Oakland Mills, walk by the church, and then get on another trail and walk home. It is always a fascinating walk. A few times I have seen parishioners in the middle of a walk or run. The two people I often see are Alex and Elizabeth Everett. A couple of days ago, Alex ran by me as he pushed his son, Andrew. The sad part is that we cannot really stop and chat with each other as we walk or run because we may not even recognize each other as we swiftly pass by. A few weeks ago, I walked past Mavis Glover; we both did not initially recognize each other because we were wearing our masks, but then we chanced upon each other again and this time we recognized each other, stood six feet apart, and had a brief chat. The three parishioners I mentioned are but a few of the people I meet as I walk on the trail. There are lots and lots of different people on the trail - White, Black, Brown, and people of every ethnicity and background. These people are mostly adults, but there are also kids who join them for a walk. Some of the people I see take the time to say hello, but a good majority of them simply walk by. I do not say hello to everyone that I meet; for the most part, I, too, simply walk by. One magical part of being on the trail - especially at this time of the year - is to behold the beauty of God’s gift of creation in the changing color and falling leaves. The weather is chilly in the morning, but gets warmer throughout the day. That is the nature of being on the trail; there is nothing permanent about it. Remember the story where Jesus talks about the lilies of the field being here today, and yet gone tomorrow?   Another interesting part about being on the trail is the sight of many people walking their pets, mostly dogs of varying breeds and sizes. There is this Asian lady that I see regularly who has a very tiny dog. I do not know which breed, but it is smaller than a chihuahua. The little dog, like any other dog on the trail, is always on a leash. That, alone, is a perfect image of the limitations that we all have, limitations that God actually gives to us. As free as we may be, there are some limitations that come with being on the trail and, for you and me, the limitations come in the duty we owe to God and one another. Remember the story of the people of Israel, about how they journeyed from Egypt to the land of Canaan. It was like being on a trail. At some point on the journey, God gave them a set of rules - The Ten Commandments. The beauty of these commandments is that when split equally into two, they reflect our duty to God and to our fellow human. Should you think deeply about them, you will come to realize that they are not about you, per se; rather, they are about a duty that you owe. And being on the trail means you have to honor and uphold that duty. Living life is like being on a trail - you begin from home, and your destination is home. On the journey, you meet a lot of different people. Some of the people you meet may make an impression on you. Others, not so much. There are folks you would meet again and again, because life’s trail is like the Lake Elkhorn trail - it is circular. This is also the very essence of God - He has no beginning, and no end. For that reason, in so far as we stay on the trail, there is the likelihood that we may meet again. While on the trail, some of the people you see will simply say, "Hello" and move on, and some will say nothing. Whether we say anything or not, we do acknowledge, at our core, that each person we see - regardless of race, color, ethnicity or ability, and whether walking, running, or biking - is on the same trail, just as you are.  Growing up, I read in a weekly newspaper, The Mirror, in my home country, Ghana. There was always this cliché in it, which read, “Be mindful of the people you meet on your way up, for it is the same people you meet on your way down.” There is also a variation on the saying that I read several months ago: “I don’t care who I meet on my way up because I ain’t coming back down.” It may be true that you may not be coming back down, but that is only when your perspective of life is lateral or vertical, a perspective where your duty is only to yourself. But if your perspective of life is circular, like the Lake Elkhorn trail, then you may have to pay particular attention to the duty that you owe to one another and to God, especially during this heightened political season. Although millions have already voted, millions more will go out to vote on November 3, 2020. It is an important task - a duty we owe as citizens. Many of you will vote either Democrat or Republican, because you believe that a particular individual or party reflects your values more than the other. That also is about being on the trail. But then one important fact you must always appreciate is that no matter whether you vote Republican or Democrat the fact remains - we may be moving in different directions, but we are, nonetheless, on the same trail. More importantly, there is nothing permanent on the trail except God, and no one single party has dominated forever. I do not know whether you walk on the Lake Elkhorn trail, or perhaps you use some other trail. I want to encourage you that whenever you get on any trail - whether you are in a wheelchair, running, walking, or biking - always remember that there are others like you on the same trail, and there will always be others like you on that trail, long after you’ve gone home.  To those people, whether you know them or not, you owe a certain duty. Upholding that duty is not only heavenly, but that is how the glory of God is made manifest. So, my beloved, find a trail, and in so far as you remain open while on the trial, you will find more than enough reason to rejoice in the God who created you in His likeness.  ~Manny.

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