I am sitting on a bench in the speckled shade under a tree where I can still feel the sun but not the full force of it. I am studying the path curving around me this way and that, and it has made me set aside my book and think.
All along this path there are stones inscribed with the common phrases “in honor of” or “in loving memory of,” and I don’t think anyone with an hour to kill while sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree would be able to look at these stones without considering the path they are laying in their own life, one uneven stone at a time.
It’s been a rough year. A good year. A year of near misses and great surprises (some welcome and others not). A year of barely keeping my head above water and trying to stay afloat in the rapids.
Another year of living on this planet.
I have been pressed down and shaken together by the ups and downs of life, and somehow, I’m still standing.
Some days I felt like the last of my optimism and energy was wrung out of me like an old rag after scrubbing toilets. There has been so much life going on that it would have been easy to miss the life going on, and I don’t want to miss a thing.
I want to wring every last drop out of this life so that one day when I’m an old woman looking back at the path my life has taken (which is getting closer and closer), I will know I left no stone unturned. I felt the rock under my feet and the wind in my hair and the sun (or the rain) on my face, and I lived in the middle of it all and didn’t lose sight of the joys to be found along the way.
And I never, ever want to forget for one second the immeasurable joys that wait for me at the end of my path when I am out of stones and out of time and my journey through this life reaches its inevitable conclusion, as all lives before me.
I want to lay every stone and turn every corner in the knowledge that I have been deeply loved and forgiven and chosen for a purpose by the highest power of them all.
The one who created me and died for me continues to guide me through every dark place and all of the bright places too. He brings meaning to every move and restores every misstep. He adds joy to every mountaintop and brings victory from every defeat.
And when the stones are too heavy to carry, he gives me strength to keep going, keep digging, keep walking, keep laying my path one stone at a time.
Until then, I will wake every morning and sleep every night, and in between I will carefully lay each stone and discover where they are taking me. Even when it’s hard, even when I’m tired. Even when the blessings abound and I can hardly catch my breath in between all the moments of absolute joy and light and love.
After all, it takes both dark and light, love and loss, joy and suffering to fully experience life as we know it.
And I don’t want to miss a thing.