Is that fair? Of course it is. I’ll tell you why. While I am looking down, I am hearing the scenery: the screaming of hawks, the whining call of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, the raucous laugh of the woodpecker and its beak pounding the trunk of a tree, the gentle susurration of leaves in the breeze and their nearly imperceptible fall to their fellows on the thickly padded forest floor, the buzz of deerflies, the chirring of chipmunks and lower pitched chattering of squirrels, brooks gurgling in the hollows, small waterfalls splashing on rocks at the bottoms of slopes, the fog dripping off of the trees. Keith cannot hear any of that. If he doesn’t see it, he misses it.
But then I also see a lot on the trail that he doesn’t see because he is looking up: a forest floor covered with bright yellow poplar leaves, orange-red persimmon leaves, deep red sumac leaves, and once, a leaf bigger than a platter; rocks of all shapes and sizes, quartz, granite, slate, mica, limestone; holes and burrows at the edge of the trail and just off to the side in hollow tree trunks; and once, a wasp digging a hole, laying its eggs, then burying another insect it had paralyzed with its venom on top of the eggs, so its young would have food to eat when they hatched. Have you ever seen that?
Many years ago Keith and I used to joke that one day I would hear when someone knocked on the door and he would go see who it was. That someday is getting closer and closer. But over the years we have adapted. We have adapted to things you probably never even thought about. Do you talk at night after the lights are out? We can’t. Keith cannot hear anything without his hearing aids, and needs light to read my lips. Do you banter back and forth while you work together? No, Keith has to be closely watching my mouth to know what I am saying. Do you call to one another from separate rooms in the house? Well, you get the idea. We have lived this way for so many years we don’t even give it a second thought any more.
On this past trip we had more things to adapt to. I usually read the maps and navigate while he drives. I cannot read a map any more without two or three magnifiers, and time to focus and concentrate. This time we took out the map the night before we left. Keith read the road numbers and cities, and I wrote them on a sheet of paper in large letters. We made our trip just fine, and we always will. You know what? Other people have it just as rough, or even worse.
Do you remember that old hymn that goes, “Every day I’m camping toward Canaan’s happy land?” Just like the Israelites, we live in a dangerous wilderness. We never know what lies before us. Anything can happen, and often does. So life is about change. It is about adapting to your circumstances. If we ever think it is about us deciding how things will turn out, we will be sorely disappointed. And if this life is so important that we let ourselves become miserable because it isn’t what we expected, have we really learned the lesson about priorities? Do we really believe that it is not even a drop in the bucket compared to Eternity? Is our faith so weak we must have everything perfect now (according to our definitions of perfection) in order to believe in a perfect Heaven?
Things are not easy for the two of us. We do have days when we wonder why all this has happened. But we strive to remember that our lives are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away, James 4:14. These momentary problems will vanish as well. I think James meant that to be a warning, but let it be a comfort to you as well. Some day we will leave the wilderness and arrive in a Promised Land. Everything will be better in the end.
Now I rejoice in the Lord greatly…for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know also how to abound; in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want: I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Phil 4:10-13.