Last night a memory crept up on me. It felt a little intrusive since I was trying to focus my thoughts elsewhere. I tried quieting the memory, but, at last, it refused to be ignored.
It came to mind that maybe the memory was trying to tell me something important, so I decided to surrender and give it a fair listen.
The memory was of a night hike that I had taken in the fall while we were away on a school camping trip. The children were busy participating in an evening activity with the camp counselors, so a few teachers decided to meet up for a hike. I grabbed my backpack and prepared myself for an adventure with them.
When I met up with the group at the trailhead, Andrea told me to turn off my flashlight. This puzzled me because it was extremely dark. Thick clouds had invaded the night sky and swallowed any light from the moon and stars. With disbelief, I looked ahead to the trail. When I couldn’t make out the path in the dense forest, I felt unsure that I wanted to hike anymore. But then, I was taken by surprise when Andrea grabbed my hand and guided me into the darkness.
I was relieved that Andrea had sensed my uneasiness and impressed by her courage. She knew enough to know that I simply needed her hand without any questions.
I relied heavily on Andrea to lead the way at first. I walked carefully, hesitant that I might fall and injure myself. I tripped and lost my footing several times, but with Andrea’s support, I was able to regain my balance and continue on.
Halfway through our hike something remarkable happened, I started to see in the dark. I could make out where the path curved up ahead, and I could determine the shadows of the thick winding tree roots below. I felt my confidence slowly emerge, and I began to enjoy the hike. I breathed in the pleasant autumn air and immersed myself in the nighttime sounds of the forest.
An hour or so later, we approached the forest’s opening. The light from beyond signaled the end of our journey. I felt a little sad and like the end had come too quickly.
Andrea released my hand, and my heart filled with gratitude for the comfort she had given me. I knew that I would not forget her kindness.
Writing for me can often feel like a lonely expedition into the unknown. However, with the support of this kind and welcoming writing community, it has felt less like an individual journey. Reading fellow slicers’ work and seeing their courage day after day has made this journey feel like a group effort.
Lastly, I want to give special thanks to all my Andreas out there. You have made my journey possible.