Our family was boondocked about 15 miles from Grand Teton National Park. We wanted to drink in the full majesty of the Tetons, but impending weather threatened our plans for a mountain hike. The clouds had completely engulfed the peaks. I was disappointed. Instead, we took to a lake trail that allowed us to penetrate the surrounding forest.
My heart was already beat up. Recently, work opportunities had been upended and my husband and I were wrecked on the inside trying to find other means for stability. Just the day before, we had walked through Jackson, Wyoming as observers only, afraid to spend a dime, shaking our heads no every time the kids looking longingly at something this town had to offer. It twisted something inside me. All I knew to do was "do." We took to the trail, hoping to perhaps see a moose. I just wanted to beat the dew-covered trail with questions (more like a tantrum), sweat some disappointment, and hope for some mental relief.
About two miles in, my son pointed out a few berries hidden under a leafy bush. The kids swore they were huckleberries and not the poisonous kind the ranger warned them about. They took a few and ate them. I kept walking, not wanting to be stopped so long by the distraction, but I was alone. They were laughing behind me, yelling out new discoveries of berries on either side of the trail. My daughter pulled out a container from her pack and began tossing in the blue and purple berries. I sighed. We didn't have time for this.
I stood there for a long while watching them graze from bush to bush. I was aware of my own unyielding fear and pain inside, but I didn't want to exhale. I didn't want to smile. My heart was bruised, but their tongues were tinted blue. Looking all around me at the dripping leaves almost touching my legs, I slowly lifted the soaked branch near my knees to uncover berries hanging there like a hidden treasure, all shiny and full and covered.
We forgot our hike. We forgot our fear. We saw the gift. We wove ourselves on and off the trail among the bushes. A berry in the container. A berry in the mouth. Soaking wet from the waist down, washing me all over. Hands wrinkled and bruised blue and purple. Slowly, slowly the ache inside gave way to consuming a treasure I did not deserve. I laughed so hard that it healed. I ate until I was filled.
We stuffed every container we had. Twenty ounces of gold we packed out that day.
It was a sacred day. A moment made for us. The reality of seeing and receiving something so rich and undeserved converted that trail to holy ground.
Blessing unwinds the tangled soul. It straightens a crooked, disappointed heart. It washes the filth.
"Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy." Psalm 68:9-10