Last weekend, I went to a three day Yoga and Meditation retreat in order to get refocused and reenergized. It was an event that I have attended before, and I was so excited to attend it again this year. The weekend was packed with outstanding Yoga and Mediation sessions, and when I laid my head on my pillow Saturday night, I felt such a peace that questions I have been asking would find answers soon. As I woke at the crack of dawn Sunday for the early morning hike and meditation, I felt uneasiness in my heart. We started the hike down to the beach where we were led in Meditation by my favorite Yoga Instructor. She has a great gift of giving, outstanding energy, and a sense of peacefulness that transfers to anyone she is around. After a led meditation, we were left to meditate on our own. I gazed out over the stillness of the water on the most peaceful lake with rolling hills. Tears just started flowing down my checks. The uneasiness in my heart was still there. I was the last one besides the instructor to depart the beach, but I felt like I was not meant to return to the lodge where breakfast was about to be served.
As I took a back trail to get to the lodge, I remembered that someone told me there was a trail that would take you up to a ridge that overlooked the lake. So, being the adventurous spirit I am, I found an opening of a trail in the woods and started down it. I started walking across a creek and up an incline. About half way up the hill, the path narrowed to only about a foot wide and was getting windier. I had been looking down at the ground as I hiked, and I came to an area where I would have to jump across a fallen tree. I looked up, and all I could see was tree after tree. I couldn’t see the path. Then, I noticed orange flags tied around the trees. As I looked up the hillside, they were just these disparate orange dots on trees, limbs, etc. It looked like total chaos; nothing was in a direct line. My fleeting thought was, “I have no idea where I am or how far I need to go to get to the ridge. Perhaps I should turn back now and return for breakfast.” The thought exited my mind as quickly as it had entered. I am a goal setter, and I had set out to find that ridge, so the journey continued…
I took a deep breath, jumped over the log, and looked up the hill. I could see an orange flag located about 10 feet in front of me where it seemed the path ended. I walked up the incline to the flag, and then I could see the path curved to the right for about another 8 feet where I could see another orange flag. When I reached this flag, the path curved to the left about another 10 feet. This process continued until I got up that hill and the path widened. It was a T at this point, and I could proceed left or right. When I glanced to my right, there was a yellow flag hanging on the limb of a tree. As I looked to my left, I saw an orange flag.
My curiosity got the best of me, and I followed the yellow flag. It took me down a path for 10 minutes until it opened up onto this private area that had very weird and unsettling karma. There were three rundown buildings, and I immediately had an uneasy feeling. I made a 180-degree turn, jogged back to the T intersection, and proceeded the other way where the orange flag fluttered in the wind. I stuck to the path, and minutes later, I reached the ridge. It was beautiful, peaceful, and serene. I talked to God… I listened as he responded giving me an answer that I had been seeking. I don’t know how long I sat on that ridge, but whether it was a minute or an hour, it was as if time had stood still. Eventually, I got up, brushed myself off, wiped away the tears trickling down my cheeks, bowed my head in thanks, and started my hike back to the lodge. There was no fear in getting back, because I knew the orange flags would get me home.
I had not taken my phone, so I could not take a picture of those flags and the chaos that it looked like, but I knew immediately that there was a message God had brought me to share with you…
As we go down life’s journey trying to find our way, he already knows the whole path. He knew how to get to the ridge, but I did not. He knew my answer would be found there. At the beginning of the journey, we might be very obedient in following the flag from Point A to B, etc. We can’t see down the whole path, and there is never a moment that we won’t get to one orange flag on the path and can see the next flag. There are times we realize we can’t see the path, and have the urge to turn back. However, we must persevere!
How many times do we get sidetracked by the other paths? How many times do we follow a yellow flag where God is giving us a warning not to go there, but our curiosity or stubbornness takes us there anyway? When we get to the end, we are unsettled and realize, “Crap… that wasn’t a good idea! I just wasted time and energy!” So, we go running back to find where the orange flag was to get back on track.
If we are faithful and follow the flags… one flag at a time… we will get to our destination. That is where peace and happiness will be. Trust me, I am not at the ridge in my real life, but I can honestly say that I feel I am almost there. I learned so much on that lonesome hike last Sunday morning. I realized to only follow the orange flags, to heed the yellow ones, and to realize that it is okay that I can’t see the ridge, yet. If I trust God and the Universe, they will get me there one step at a time… one flag at a time.
EXERCISE FOR FINDING YOUR WAY
Draw yourself a life map. Put a circle where you are now and an “X” at where you want to be. Draw some little orange flags along the path. Mark what you think your milestones are in order to get to the end. You might not be able to think of all of them, but try your best. Put the Map on your refrigerator where you see it all the time. As something happens that moves you closer to your happiness, either put a checkmark next to the orange flag that you originally had there or make a new orange flag showing the new activity or situation that got you closer to your goal. If something happened that day that got you sidetracked from your destination and you felt unsettled about it, mark a yellow flag showing you got detoured. Now, find your way back and persevere!!!
Live with passion,
– Author and Motivational Speaker –