We took some Jr. High kids to Joshua Tree to go hiking. It was an amazing day. The wild flowers were blooming, the rock formations were eye catching, and the growth of new vegetation among the burn areas were inspiring.
We took a group photo prior to hiking the trail leading to a mine. We started out as a group but I soon found myself at the end of the pack with one of the girls. We were in no hurry as we talked together, stopped frequently to look at the wildness of the area and to take pictures. With each new vertical hill to conquer she would say, “I don’t know if I can make it”. I used variations of “one step at a time”, “hope springs eternal”, and “we are in this together”.
As we would reach the top we could see the group in the distance. It was discouraging for her as she had not hiked before. Eventually we made it to the mine. It was surrounded by a fence, so we could not get close. The group was sitting on a low wall and we joined them. She leaned into me and whispered, “Is this it?” I smiled back sharing the same sentiment. Since the others had been there for a half an hour they were ready to go back. She invited me to walk with her again.
On the return trip we found and explored an abandoned rock home, took more pictures of animals, burnt cactus that were blooming and simply enjoyed the views. Toward the end she remarked that she was glad she was not at the front. I asked why and here response was, “usually when I talk, no one really listens.”
There were two lessons I was reminded of that day.
1. Teens really want someone to listen to them. Listening to them is a simple gift we can give.
2. In life we can get so caught up in getting to what we think is our destination, that we forget to enjoy the journey.