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Does Your Spiritual Life Need More Adventure?

If your faith feels as if it’s on autopilot, it’s time to shake things up.

Grace and Edward on the trail
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

Something Gracie reminded me the other day: Dogs like new things too. 

We were setting out to hike Three Mile Hill here in the Berkshires. Familiar trail. Good quick exercise. Nice scenery, except for the occasional black bear. But at the start Gracie stopped. Sat. Flopped over on her side. There’s nothing more stubborn than a stubborn golden retriever. Especially one who is, shall we just admit it, a tad spoiled and used to getting her way. Mostly. I have my limits, hard as that might be to believe.

“What? You’re tired?” Hardly. Gracie had been eager to get in the Jeep. Delighted to see her hiking bag come out. (Big, doggie smile.)  So whence these canine histrionics? Then, like a tap on the shoulder from above, it hit me. Was she bored? Tired of this same old path?  Stupid of me. Yes, dogs get bored with stuff. So why wasn’t I? Was I just interested in the rote exercise and jacked-up heart rate? After all, Gracie and I have lost a combined 47 pounds in the last seven months, mostly hiking these steep mountain trails.

We got back in the Jeep and drove a few miles to the Lookout Vista Trail in Beartown State Forest, a first-time trek for us. Previously we’d ascended by the Wildcat Trail. Sure enough, Gracie couldn’t wait to start out, vaulting up the trail and looking over her shoulder at me as if to say, C’mon, keep up, dude.  As the trail rose higher, up above 2,000 feet, I considered my spiritual trek in life. Was I too often treading the same ground? Going through the motions? Taking the path of least spiritual resistance?

Breathless we reached the top of the trail, a rugged outcrop offering a panoramic vista of the rolling Berkshires. We perched on some rocks to admire the gracious old hills and grab some water. I wondered again if my spiritual life was more of a to-do list than an adventure. Did I demand more from God than I listened?  Did my commitments feel more like obligations? Did I take my faith for granted rather than seeing it anew each day as the adventure it should always be? Would God meet me on whatever path I chose?  Gazing out to the horizon, I knew He would. Would I? 

I pulled Gracie close. “Thanks for the reminder, girl.” She smiled. She always knows when she is right.

On the way down Gracie pulled us towards the Bear Mountain Trail, a different way out that crossed a couple of muddy streams and skirted some often-overflowing bogs, dangerous temptations for a dog who likes to dance in the muck. But as Jimmy Cliff sang, “Many rivers to cross.”

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