Once upon a time, a young married couple went on a trip to the mountains.
Though they were not particularly “in shape,” they relished the thought of a long hike in the hills, followed by a warm dinner and a soak in the hot tub. Roughing it.
That’s us. Me and my Sweet Babboo pre-kids. Tut-tut. Spring chickens…
They set out one fine afternoon for a splendid-sounding jaunt through the trees, laughing and chatting and pointing out green things, things with roots, textures and sights and sounds.
Keep in mind that I was pregnant around that time. But not pregnant enough for it to matter.
A few minutes into the hike, Mr. and Mrs. Sweet Babboo realized they’d bitten off more nature than they could chew. The entire trail seemed to be uphill, like the Earth would never come down again. Their legs began to feel like lead poles, their feet like concrete blocks.
Pregnancy would have been a good excuse, but it only works if you’re good and pregnant – a ways in. Large and round. No, as it turns out, I was winded because I had no muscles. It is extremely embarassing for me to admit this. In the past I prided myself on my physical abilities in swimming, skiing, climbing, and hiking.
Other hikers, nasty cheerful hikers, were passing them, bouncing downhill on springy legs, tittering to one another about the weather, the scenery, Moby Dick, who cares. We were – I mean THEY were – mad.
Maybe we could PRETEND I was very very pregnant. Then it wouldn’t be such a disgrace that, half an hour (or was it half a mile?) into the hike, I was prostrate, staring up at the tree tops, a wet noodle on a cold rock.
(I had just enough breath left in me to take a picture. Those are the actual tree tops. I would have missed them if I’d been in shape. Thank you, jiggly legs!)
How dare these people make it look so EASY?! How will we ever make it? The Sweet Babboos finally struggled to the finish. Yes, they made it, encouraging each other along the way. “Just a little further.” “It’s got to be coming soon.” “We can DO this!!!”
And if I’d been ridiculously preggo, I could have bragged that I’d made the entire uphill journey while carrying all the extra weight and wiggling around with the loose joints of a woman about to go into labor.
Truth be told, I dragged my sorry, flabby buns all the way to the end – and I’m glad I did.
When Mr. and Mrs. Sweet Babboo reached the top, they discovered what was giving those annoying hikers their energy and zip:
a waterfall, stories high, crashing into a pool below. Victorious hikers could sit on a series of rocks right at the foot of the falls, gazing upward as if in awe of a huge watery altar.
So there we sat. Neither of these photos does it justice. It was one of the most beautiful things either of us had ever seen. Suddenly it didn’t matter that we were wet noodles. Wet noodles can be turned into happy pasta dinners by looking long enough at God’s amazing creation.
When we could tear ourselves away from the falls, we walked back down, annoying, springy, babbling to each other about what we’d just seen. At the head of the trail, we passed naive little hikers, just starting their journey. And we laughed inside – roaring! – to think we’d almost given up so soon.
Today I am thankful for waterfalls. Some are visible and so stunningly beautiful, they impress and inspire years later. Some are spiritual, invisible but tangible when they give us new strength.
The Sweet Babboos reached the top by encouraging each other. We certainly weren’t going to get there by physical prowess.
Can you to find a way to make a waterfall? It’s Christmas time. Look out for someone who needs a pick-me-up, and pray to find a way to encourage them. They may be prostrate on a cold rock, even though they’ve never seemed daunted by a challenge.
“Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25