There is a funny thing about buses … bear with me now, let me finish. We all have those moments in life where we are standing in a stop waiting for some bus to take us to our next destination whether that maybe school, church, or work. For moments of our lives we pause and just wait for this to finally arrive. Those moments before stepping on the bus seem as if time moves slower and our patience grows thin. We are often led to believe that if we look more often at the time it will have no choice but to move a little faster. Our experience has taught us that we have little control on when that bus arrives so we basically left to wait as patiently as possible because we are led to believe for that moment at least that it is this bus we are waiting for that will take us to where we need to be.
I remember waiting for the school bus as a young child in grade school. There was one of those rainy days where it really didn’t seem like it was raining because the drops were so small yet everything was soaking wet. There was a little place with a roof where we could wait without getting wet, but as a kid it was much more reasonable to stand in the puddles and watch the worms. I remember wondering why I had to go to school, I wasn’t very good at being a student and I couldn’t see any reason to go other than to play with the other kids and the teachers only let you do that a few times a day. Even as a child there was something from within that made me stand there in the rain and wait for that school bus because I knew that I had to go to that school even if I couldn’t rationalize it at that time. I really didn’t like chanting the spelling for “cat” or “dog” or reading stories about some Jack or Jill, but I knew I had to wait as patiently as possible for that bus to take me where I was expected to go.
I tried to walk to school once; I skipped the bus and decided that the school really wasn’t that far and I was more than able to get there on my own. I was pretty confident back in the second or third grade. I knew the school was in one certain direction, yet as I was walking down the rural road I realized that I never really paid attention to how the bus got to the school and the first intersection became challenging. The entire distance was only a few miles, three or four maybe … or maybe longer … I had shorter legs then and I knew it seemed longer at the time. I just kept following my gut and made it to the edge of town where I had to walk across the bridge. Yep the BRIDGE, someone had told me a horror story involving someone who fell or jumped off that bridge and drowned. They made me believe that you could still hear the screams when you walked across it. I never even knew I would have to cross that BRIDGE when I was so bold to skip waiting for the bus.
I dug deep within my banks of courage and mustered enough fear to run across that bridge as fast as possible screaming “la la la la” as loud as I could so that the ghostly screams couldn’t haunt me. I made it without much of a chill and the goose bumps would certainly fade away. I was proud and kept walking as far away from that bridge as possible. I was in town at that point and found myself side tracked by the general store and other places along the way. I made it to the school and was so relieved as I walked through the door, unfortunately; the principal was also waiting there and gave me a stern lecture as I was escorted to my class. I made it to school without waiting for the bus and I conquered the BRIDGE. I was late for class and missed most of the morning lesson and most of all I missed recess. In fact, because I of my initiative to walk to school on my own without permission, I was going to miss several days of recess as part of the consequences for my actions.
I was so frustrated with the way that I was rewarded for making it to school on my own I was going to prove that I was old enough to walk to school I decided to walk back home after school. This was fine right up to the point where I had to walk back across that BRIDGE. I was now on the other side of the road and as it turns out there wasn’t any sidewalks on that side of the bridge it was just a small railing about 2 to 3 feet high. I timed my cross with a gap in the traffic and when the time was right I began to cross. I realized that on the other side of this small railing was the falls where the water crashed down onto jagged rocks. I froze and thought vividly of the poor soul who died from this bridge and thought that do one could possibly survive such a fall. A passing car awoke my daze with the unnecessary extended use of its horn. I was trembling at every joint and quickly made it to the other side and went straight home. I learned patience that day and that although waiting for the bus seemed like a waste of time by doing so I would get to where it was supposed to take me both safe and on time.
As life ages on we become “wiser” and part of that is because we continue to learn along the way, or at least some of us do. I feel a larger part of that is due to our ability and desire to reflect on our past. If we did not actually do something through a process of learning how to do it or that we could do it and then later take time to reflect on how we learned what it is we had learned, will we actually remember learning it? Or maybe the question to ask is if we cannot reflect on what we have learned did we actually learn what we should have? Think about one of those movies where the character had to wake up every morning and relive the same day until they lived it the way they were supposed to. Now think of having to wake up every morning and having to relearn everything because we did not have the ability to retain what we have learned.
Many years and several decades have passed since my venture across that dead man’s bridge to school. I can still regenerate the chills in my bones from that experience and I reflect on it from time to time and now I can see the value of what I learned. I also can see how that lesson can be compared to many other lessons I have had to experience throughout life. Too often do we lose the ability to become patient and try to make things work for us on our own without the help of others. I know that there are times that if know I can do things on my own and can muster just enough stubbornness to prove it to myself. However, much like when I skipped the bus and made my own way to school, there have been many times where I worked harder to get the same result and had I been patient and endured the situation better I would have received better results and it would have cost me less.
It is very difficult to accept that we have a path and a purpose laid out for us and all we have to do is follow the prompting to stay on that path and do whatever it is that we are supposed to do here on earth. Way too often are we tempted and deceived that there is an “easier” or “much faster” way to get to where we want to be. For instance, one fall as I was “hunting” in the woods. It was called hunting but I just like hiking in the woods and seeing everything in that life and environment. I am not much of a hunter to some because I have never “bagged” anything. Not that I have never seen anything to shoot, I just chose to be very selective on what I kill.
So, this hunting trip I was exploring a new set of woods deep within the forest. I had a fairly good idea of where I was and planned on making my way to a particular point by a certain time. I came to a point where my path would cross a swamp, not just a swampy area, a swamp. Yep sort of like a pond but filled with dead trees and other unidentifiable things. I really didn’t want to walk across that muck and felt that I could find a better way around. It was an old pond so I should be able to just walk around. It may take more steps but it should be faster than trying to walk through the mud where you sink up to your knees with ever other step.
Around the swamp I began and soon I found myself at a ravine that I could not cross. That led me to reroute again and head up hill and around the ravine. On the other side of the hill was a fenced off land that was posted. I was forced to follow the fence line until I could make my way around the posted property. Needless to say several hours went by as I walked in these uncharted woods alone when I finally came across some footprints in the mud. It becomes vital that you are more observant when you are near other hunters because one you could accidently shoot in the direction they are in or more so they could shoot you. So now not only am I trying to find my way around this damn swamp, and trying to keep my eyes open for the damn deer I am supposed to be hunting, but know I have to look for the other fellow who is hunting out here with me … somewhere.
There are many moments when that cartoon character with the plaid hunting hat and the double barrel shot-gun comes in mind. I could picture him hunting for that rascally rabbit. As I tipped toed through the forest following these foot prints soon things started to become familiar to me. So familiar that I started to know exactly where I was and as I pushed through the brush I stand looking at those foot prints I left the last time I was standing at the edge of this damn swamp. In the end, I made it across that swamp and straight to my truck and then straight home. Once again, I didn’t “bag” anything but I did have another lesson on patience and following the path laid before me.
One of the hardest things I am trying to learn in life is how to stay on the path that was already prepared for me. I know there is a place for me to be and I feel that I will be rewarded along the way but it is more difficult than I had thought to resist the need to find a better way. Way too often the short cut is just the long way around the original route. Too often do we try to make our own way just to learn that it was much more difficult and took longer to get to where we wanted to be. Often when we are tempted to find a way around we must endure so much more and then we will often find ourselves right back where we started to try all over again.
A friend asked me what she could pray for; please pray that I have the strength and wisdom to see the path laid before me and to have the patience to stay on that path. Pray that I will be strong enough in my faith to endure all the temptations and deceptions that will be thrown at me along the way. My dear friend, pray that I will choose the safety of the bus and that I will not get lost in the woods and have to start all over again. Most importainly, please pray that I don’t miss the next bus.