I’m ending a whirlwind trip to the east coast of Maine with my youngest daughter, Sarah. We have spent 2 1/2 days in Bar Harbor and the surrounding Acadia National Park. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and I certainly hope it wont be my last trip up this way.
As I planned our outings for each day, I tried to keep in mind the things Sarah likes to do. She is an outdoor girl. She loves to be on the water. She loves to hike. She loves to open ever single set of blinds in the house to let in as much sunlight as possible. As a result, I found this wonderful interactive map that allowed me to look around the area and choose things I thought she would love. (Go ahead and check it out for yourself. You will probably get lost there for hours like I did!).
One of the first things on the list was a hike up the Beehive Trail. The Beehive is only 520 feet tall. A cake walk. I chortled a little when I looked at what Maine calls “mountains” when compared to those in Tennessee and North Carolina. She’ll love this, I thought.
She had already driven by the Beehive before, so she knew a little about what it looked like. I told her I picked it for two reasons. First, because it shouldn’t take us very long to get up 520 feet (right?). And second, it was listed as strenuous, and I wanted her to have a good workout in the process.
That’s when I learned she was afraid of heights. It was news to me. It isn’t that she’s afraid to be up high. She’s afraid to be up high on a ledge looking down. Well, who isn’t, I thought. That pretty much describes me as well.
But she was game, so off we went.
The first part of the trail wasn’t bad. But after we split off from the other possible trails and headed up the Beehive things started to change. The steps went away. Suddenly we were climbing up rocks 3 feet tall to get from one level to another.
And that’s when things got difficult.
We were climbing straight up in some points. There ladder rungs made out of iron embedded in the side of the mountain. We had gone up a few of those when Sarah started to have a bit of a panic attack. We sat down where we were and talked for a bit. I explained we were pretty close to the top, and going up would be easier than going back down. She was hesitant.
I told her I would go up a bit more and see what was left (we couldn’t see above us where we were). So I left her there on that ledge and went up another few outcroppings. I still couldn’t see the top, but I also couldn’t see Sarah. I knew if I kept going, soon she wouldn’t be able to hear me either. So I gingerly climbed back down to where she was and sat back down.
About that time a young girl came by us. She seemed to be about Sarah’s age or a little younger. She wasn’t even out of breath, and that ticked me off a bit. We exchanged pleasantries and Sarah asked her the question to which I had no answer. “Is there another way down from here, or do we have to back down this trail?” She smiled and assured us there was a much easier trail on the other side of the Beehive, and she told Sarah she was almost to the top. And then she was gone.
I took Sarah by the hand, and we prayed. I prayed for God to grant her peace. To keep her focused. And to keep us safe. After that, she took the lead. As she started out, I told her this story my dad, or my granddad, or my uncle, or someone told me years ago.
Once there was a man who set out to swim across the Mississippi River. He swam all day. He swam all night. The next morning, as he got about 6 feet from other shore, he decided he couldn’t make it and turned around and went back.
Sarah was less than amused and told me not to make her laugh any more. Soon we were on top of the Beehive looking out across the mountains on one side and the Sand Beach area on the other. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
We sat on top of the Beehive and talked about the journey up that hill. We talked about it as a metaphor for life. We talked about things such as being easier to go forward than to go back where from whence you came and how even though the end of the journey may not be visible continuing the journey is always worth it.
Life is a metaphor. One after another. And in the metaphors we find that life also has meaning.
And its definitely worth the journey.