This past weekend, I attended a spiritual retreat. Several times a day we walked along a driveway between the conference center and chapel and dining hall. The path was several feet wide and made up of thick, chunky gravel. One side was deeper and harder to walk on; the gravel on the other side was worn down by traffic and was packed and smoother, but there were some ruts and potholes along the way. Several women discussed how precarious it was. We walked back and forth all weekend, heads down, careful not to step in a hole or twist an ankle by stepping on a large, loose rock.
On the third day, as we walked along the path for about the twentieth time, a woman beside me pointed and said, “Look at those trees! When did they change?” Lining that stretch of the path were several maple trees, and they were ablaze in the beautiful vibrant oranges and golds and reds of fall in the Midwest. The colors were so impossibly vivid and saturated against the clear blue sky. Wow. Had they been this way all along?
We spend much of our lives, I think, looking down. We don’t mean to, but we’re so concerned by the things that might trip us up. We watch for potholes and fear losing our balance. All our efforts go into spotting potential traps, not just for ourselves but for our friends, too, to keep them “safe.” And that’s OK. But when we do this, we sometimes forget to look up. If we did, we might be amazed by what we see. There are blessings all around us — some are small, but some are so breathtakingly beautiful that you have to stop walking for a moment to soak it in. Moments like these remind us that, although our walks are important and we don’t want to stumble along the way, there is beauty throughout the journey – if we’ll only look up and open our eyes. Who knows what blessings we’ve missed that have been there all along?