It is nearing the one month mark since our return home.
And while I miss many things about life on the road…
The family time,
Having Toby with us 24/7,
Seeing amazing sites,
Meeting incredible people,
And enjoying the unique vistas of the American west,
I must say I am so glad to be back in Pennsylvania for the month of October, because as uniquely stunning the parks are out west nothing beats a Pennsylvania autumn!
October is my favorite month of the year.
I love the colored leaves, the crisp temperatures, fall sweaters and apple cider. I love the traditions surrounding October like pumpkin carving, costumes, and corn mazes.
This October has been a bit different than other Octobers with extra challenges resulting from the transition back to reality and Toby’s absence….a true rollercoaster ride of beautiful moments and heartbreaking ones.
Glad/sad seasons are not my favorite seasons of life. I have a hard time navigating the ups and downs of emotions. I find them exhausting, but I do find that they are the seasons that make me feel most alive. There is something about the stark difference in the blessing moments and trial moments that build in us a deeper gratitude, adjust our perspective, and make us appreciate the good days all the more.
It seems October is a fitting month for a glad/sad season. Like the ever-changing weather of Pennsylvania autumns, we wake not sure what the day will bring. We have had our share of cold, grey days, but then when the sun breaks through the grey and spotlights the rainbow of colors that glow so brilliantly on display, there is such a sense of wonder and gratitude for the blessings.
Within the struggles we have much to be grateful for!
And even on the sad days, the hard days, the “I feel so alone days” God is still there,
And God is still good!
On Friday we participated in our annual tradition of wandering through Cool Springs Corn Maze.
This is always one of my favorite outings of the year. I don’t know what it is about corn mazes that bring me such joy. I love everything about them. I love the smells, the nip in the air, the beauty of the yellow stalks against the blue sky. I love the camaraderie of navigating the maze with friends and the challenge of finding your way back to the entrance…
And I love the spiritual analogy that can be found in the journey and how that fun, fall activity can be likened to our mortal journey here on earth.
Let us consider the journey of navigating a corn maze as seen through spiritual eyes:
When we arrive we are given a map.
While a bit basic and vague, the map gives you a good general overview of the design of the corn maze and paths found within.
It highlights important stops along the way where additional information can be found.
Everyone begins their journey with the same instructions, the same directions, and the same warnings.
We all step onto the path and enter through the same gate.
From there everyone’s journey differs greatly.
Some have an easier time than others, either because of innate skills or because they were blessed with a directionally talented group to travel with.
Some choose to travel alone, and some travel alone because they have no one to walk with.
I can testify that traveling with a group is the key to successful navigating. The support of others, the opportunity to learn from others who have gone before you, or simply the opportunity to work with others to solve problems you encounter along the way, makes all the difference.
It is a lot more overwhelming and can be a bit frightening to journey alone.
(And not nearly as much fun!)
Some choose to use the map provided while others discard the map. Some because they feel they don’t need it, others because they choose to wander more aimlessly.
Either way, they soon discover the error of their ways when they have traveled deep enough into the cornfield that the entrance and exit are out of sight.
It is there in the middle of our journey that we are most likely to get turned around and lost.
Suddenly we find ourselves traveling the same loop over and over again, uncertain of how to get off it, or find ourselves facing another dead end.
Moments like these can be disheartening.
It can be a morale-crusher to find that after all the time and energy spent walking those paths that you haven’t gotten anywhere.
Knowing that we have been working hard to make it safely to the end only to find ourselves facing a wall of cornstalks on a path that leads nowhere is heartbreaking. It can makes the most seasoned travelers want to sit down and cry.
But quitting is not an option…
In life or in corn mazes.
We can’t just take a seat, declare we won’t be moving any further, and simply live out the remainder of our days in the middle of the corn maze.
It is in those moments our mettle is tested. We must pull ourselves up by our “oh so muddy” boot straps and find perspective and direction.
How does one do that?
1. Well if we were wise enough to hold onto our map that would be a good place to start. The Lord never asked us to navigate mortality blindly and has lovingly given us all the guidance and direction we seek when lost, if we but stop and read His instructions.
2. We could ask those who travel with us for help. The Lord knew how trying life would be. He never wanted us to have to navigate the challenges alone. He placed people around us that He knew we would need to listen to us, cry with us, council us, walk with us, and help us find our way back to Him. These people are our friends, our family, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when we think we are wandering alone in a maze of confusion, surrounded by walls on all sides, and feeling utterly hopeless, if we would just call out for help rescuers would come charging in.
But the most effective tool when lost in a corn maze is also the simplest…
When you are in the middle of the maze, surrounded by a 10-foot-tall wall of corn on all sides, it is easy to lose all sense of direction. But if you stop, and look up at the celestial body overhead, the Sun, and where it rests in the sky, can show you which way to go.
The view from above isn’t confusing. It isn’t distorted. It is so clear. The Lord sees our journey from a celestial perspective. While we don’t have that same aerial view, we can trust that the view of our life plan from above is awesome.
We may not see the whole picture, but He does!
If we but ask, He will lead us through.
I know that to be true.
I just sometimes need to be reminded.
If you find yourself in a corn maze or lost in a life maze it is important to remember that all the tools needed to navigate this unknown world have been given us.
Trust in them.
And don’t forget to