Took a quick trip to Voluntown to explore the Pachaug State Forest—the largest in Connecticut. Decided to avoid Mount Misery (who wants to hike a mountain that’s named “Misery”? not me!) and decided to avoid Hell Hollow Road (I live next to a cemetery and scare easily, I don’t need to be on any road where locals report “hauntings”!) Instead, I checked out the Rhododendron Sanctuary Trail in the State Forest. Supposedly an easy walk and spectacular in June and July when they are in bloom.
I was expecting a magical, awe-inspiring moment of walking along the trail to suddenly see a burst of color. (Cue the sunlight filtering through the trees and the bumblebees merrily at work among the flowers.) Except that wasn’t the reality. The reality is that those flowers weren’t open one bit (pictured above.) Oh, I saw buds alright, and I’m sure it’s a sight to behold when they are in bloom. But it was not the magical hike I had built up in my mind. Expectations did not equal reality.
Adventures do not always go as planned. Life has a way of surprising us. Sometimes the path we choose has some twists and turns. And wouldn’t you know it, but there are times when the rhododendrons aren’t in bloom after all! But where’s the blessing?
There’s this great story in Genesis 32 where Jacob returns home after cheating his older brother Esau out of his inheritance. He sends his family across a stream to safety and stays on the other side by himself for a night, preparing to face his brother and the consequences of his past. But a man shows up out of nowhere. Some believe the man is actually an Angel, others believe it’s actually God. At any rate, Jacob and the Angel wrestle until daybreak. The Angel strikes Jacob on the hip, putting his hip completely out of joint. But Jacob will not let go. He says, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26) Jacob walks around with a limp for the rest of his life. Though he does receive his blessing, particularly in the form of reconciliation with Esau.
When life doesn’t go as planned, when our expectations do not match reality—sometimes it may help to hold on until we get that blessing. Not always, it takes discernment to decide those times when we should persevere and those times when we must walk away. Though if we choose to persevere, that wrestling match may just end with us limping away with a blessing. When we face those twists and turns, we can ask ourselves where the blessing truly is. And the answer may surprise us.
(This Week’s Thoughts 6.27.19)