Over July 4th weekend, Kent and I camped at Deception Pass State Park with our daughter’s family. Our two families set up tents in adjacent campsites. This works well because the grandsons can get up and come over to Grandma and Grandpa’s campsite for breakfast while the parents get a little extra tent time.
The next morning the younger grandson told us about a secret trail out of their campsite. Some man walking by gave him the hot tip. He was eager to explore and began recruiting companions. “Can you come with me on the secret trail?” What with hiking and beach-combing and preoccupation with our plans, we just didn’t get to it. Still, he kept asking a third, a fifth, maybe a 20th time.
At last, we were settled in by the campfire, anticipating dinner when again I heard, “Will you come with me on the secret trail?” With no good excuse, I said, “Sure, I’ll come.”
We stepped down into a little clearing at the back of the campsite, and indeed found a path leading off to the west. Soon five foot tall Salal, Thimbleberry and Salmonberry closed in with green tendrils and runners criss-crossing and nearly obliterating the path. We pushed through, watching carefully for spiders and soon came to another clearing. A giant cedar lay as if in sleep, blocking the western way. End of the secret trail?
Not even! My grandson scrambled to the top of the trunk and pointed. “It keeps going!” I followed him up and over, and we pushed our way through more tall bushes another 20 feet or so. Before us was a door frame formed of a fallen sapling parallel to the ground about five feet up supported by two perpendicular branches straddling the secret trail. Perhaps it led to Narnia or another dimension. We stepped through the portal and in another 25 feet popped out onto a wide trail paralleling the beach. Hurray! We’d landed on the main route from West Beach to North Beach and the ocean was just steps away.
My grandson glowed with pleasure. We briefly stepped out onto the beach, but now the goal was to find a different way back to camp so we could shock everyone. We noted where the secret trail intersected the main trail, just north of a metal grating over wetland. We headed south and soon intersected the broad beach trail back to the campsites.
At the edge of his campsite, my grandson urged silence and we tiptoed. “Surprise!” he yelled as we marched triumphantly into the circle. “It IS a trail! We got to the beach!!” Guided tours of the secret trail were offered immediately.
I love my grandson’s enthusiasm and persistence. I see a model to follow, a metaphor for exploring the secret trail of Jesus, my life-long task. Sometimes I have to leave the cozy campfire. It’s best to recruit a companion or two. The trail is narrow and often obstructed by fallen logs and brambles. I haven’t arrived yet, but if I persist, there is a goal worth all the trouble.
I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14