Where Does the Trail Lead?

If you drive toward Alex City from Lake Martin, Lamberth Road is somewhere on the left. I don’t know of a time when any Lamberths actually lived there. It may have been the late 1800s or early 1900s. There’s no homestead to speak of. I didn’t travel that road growing up. I clearly recognize the name, however.

A few years back, I was visiting my friend Jan at her mother’s lake house. We’d planned to head toward town and also take a look at that road on our way. So we did. I drove down Lamberth Road and, having done so, arrived at the intersection of Lamberth and Elkahatchee.

Like I said, it was a few years back, and my phone may not have had GPS then, or – just as likely – I might not have known how to use it. I didn’t know where we were. My instinct was to turn around and go back the other way if we wanted to get to town. That seemed logical to me: if you don’t know where you are, retrace your steps until you do.

But Jan said, “If we go right, won’t we get to town that way?” Jan has a good sense of direction. I don’t, and I didn’t know what to do about her suggestion.

“Hold on a minute,” I said, and I called my sister Anne at her house in Montgomery. I explained, “I am at the corner of Elkahatchee Road and Lamberth Road. Where am I?”

Anne probably hadn’t been near that intersection in 30 or more years. Yet she said, “If you go left, you will end up at Willow Point Country Club. If you go right, you will end up at Russell Retail Center.” Jan and I went right, and it was just as Anne said. We found our way to town.

Recently, I’ve been taking walks on color-coded trails not far from my home in Montgomery. There is a red one, a blue one and a yellow one. I may not be a natural at knowing where I am. However, I do know how to follow markers, and the color code helps me find my way along the red, blue and yellow trails.

The red one is the longest. I think in terms of minutes instead of distance – I can follow the red along for a little over 35 minutes until I return to the spot where I began. The blue trail takes a little over 20 minutes from that starting point until the return. But about that yellow? I wondered how it fit into the whole scheme of things, and this is what I realized.

Yellow will not get you back to the beginning. Yellow is 15-minute detour in the middle of the wooded area. You can take yellow while you are walking, but it will never get you back to where you need to be. I felt that this was an important recognition.

Some trails take you back to the beginning. Some get you where you want to go. But some trails lead you in circles. You can walk on them for a little while, but you’ll need to find a different way to get where you’re going. It’s like that caution: you can’t do the same thing in the same way and expect a different result. But oh, how I have tried.

Early on, I was concerned about getting lost on these walking trails, but my experience has shown me that the color codes work. Also, I walk in the middle of the trail in order to avoid whatever poisonous growth or sticker bushes might cross my path. Or snakes. I figure I can see danger, or better avoid it, if I clearly see the path.

I wondered if there were critters that I would not want to encounter. I do hear noises along the trail, but I have determined that it is usually a squirrel. Interestingly, squirrels sound ten times their normal size when they scamper unseen through wooded areas. I had also worried that the trails might be isolated, but there is a lot of activity.

Over time, you can get more comfortable along the paths. You can assess fears and risks even as the environment becomes more familiar. You start to recognize certain landmarks and how they connect. I was so excited when I figured out how red connected to yellow, then how blue connected to yellow. It was almost as if, at long last, I had developed a sense of direction. And when that giant squirrel in the foliage ended up being a little thing scampering across my path, I could say, “Oh, it’s you.”

I’ve been down lots of trails in my life. I’ve taken lots of detours and often felt lost or afraid. I’ve known many days where I felt confused and uncertain, as if I did not know where to go from here. How about you?

It’s true what they say: wherever you go, there you are. When I took those trails in faith, with a sense of purpose, and a little bit of courage, that’s what I found… because it was on the trails where faith was built, purpose was discovered, and courage was developed.

There are lots of reasons to be grateful, and I hope that’s what you see as you go out today. Though our lives are confined to time, space, knowledge and skills and the inner workings of our hearts and minds … even within all of that … each life holds much in common with all people. Yet it’s uniquely our own. That’s an amazing thing and a good reminder to head out with confidence that something good is ahead.

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 2, Issue 19