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  Introduction

Introduction to Unmasking

A Journey of “Uncovering”

At age 62, I discovered a new love, a new passion--hiking. Always a lover of God’s earth, I have walked up and down roads, in parks, on flat trails, but have never hiked anything of significant difficulty until one summer day my son asked me to hike a section of the North Country Trail. For nearly a mile or more the trail was straight up a hill. I cut through rocks, stumbled over roots, climbed over fallen trees. The ascent was so steep that a couple times I had to stop because my heart rate was too high. In spite of the heat, sweat, tiny bugs flying at my eyes, I loved it--everything about it. I loved the start-not knowing where it would lead, the dangers that lurked (bears, snakes), an unfamiliar path of rocks that opened to sandy trails and a forest of Mountain Laurels. It was mysteriously beautiful and unknown…and arduous.

Each week (weather permitting) we would do another trail, some more difficult than others. One trail we hiked had mile and direction markers--that were difficult to read. That day I thought we would not get out of the woods before dark. At one point my son said, “Mom, we need to make a commitment to hike for 20 more minutes and if the trail doesn’t become clear, we can back track.” That would mean having to re-navigate a half mile of what I call “pricker bushes.” It was downright awful! We found the trail and got out of the forest before dark. Other trails were easy, minimal elevation, but they seemed to go on for longer stretches.

Hiking, though physical, is also emotional and spiritual. It uncovers what is inside--from perseverance, to frustration, to patience, to dogged determination--and always unknown. And much like our human walk it can be frighteningly beautiful when a sudden opening appears in the woods of our confusion.

Our lives are filled with markers--pointers--some easy to read, some confusing. Some markers are clear, others you just have to guess which way they are pointing. And so living is a trek--arduous, frightening, scratchy, tiring, but always a mystery and adventure and to those who look deeper, to those who look beyond the mask of the person they call self.

The following are my “mile markers” of my life’s journey thus far. While life has not always been easy, it has always pointed me in its direction. I have stumbled, climbed, fell, slipped and have lived to see the beauty of the Mountain Laurel Forest. I have been lost in the shroud of darkness, only to see a small arrow pounded to a tree that said, “This is the way, walk in it.”

I am extending you an invitation to walk with me a spell. Discover what you may see at each Mile Marker.

A warning about the trail: To recover, we first must uncover-- a journey of unmasking. It doesn’t matter what age you are--my hike began with the first step. Put on your walking shoes, gear up--ready--set--uncover--unmask.