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Navigating life’s pathways with gratitude!

By Stephen C. Schultz

The sun peeked through the pines providing a concert show with beams of light flickering across the forest floor as the wind whistled through the limbs. It was a cool spring day on the Oregon coast and at 10 years old, I was ready for whatever adventure would come my way.

With my Fenwick spinning rod in hand, I was standing at the edge of a fresh water lake about 10 miles south of Florence. My Dad, Mom, Me, Susan and Scott were surrounded by underbrush which consisted of rhododendrons, sallow berries, ferns and sapling cedars. Alder, hemlock and wild huckleberries rounded out the coastal flora.

I gazed out to see a floating platform in the middle of the lake. This was to be our fishing destination for the day. Dad thought it would be nice to take the family fishing, but it needed to be somewhere that the smaller kids could enjoy catching some fish. This particular lake was full of yellow perch, which are pretty easy to catch with a worm and a bobber, thus keeping the little kids engaged.

I looked around and there was no boat or other way out to the platform except by way of floating logs. These logs were hooked together end to end so they would not spin in the water. However, they would move under foot. It was about 40 yards to the platform.

My dad said, “Ok…let’s walk out to the floating platform…and don’t look down!”

As I have recalled this experience, I thought what a great metaphor for life. We all have goals in life, but sometimes the pathway to our goal is not what we expected. And, once we start down the path, it’s not always as uneventful as we would like.

Now, I had been taught to swim, so I knew if I fell in I wouldn’t die. I also trusted in the experience and judgment of my father. I knew he wouldn’t put his young family in a seriously dangerous position.

I trusted in my dad's words when he said, “Don’t look at your feet. Look at the floating platform and just start walking.” 

In life, hopefully we have a destination we are striving for. There is usually a specific path we choose to go down. Sometimes the path is adventuresome, sometimes dangerous, and sometimes scary. Sometimes it seems to move under foot and we feel unstable. I recall as we walked out to that floating platform I felt some anxiety. I also recall my father, providing words of instruction and encouragement as we made our way across the lake.

If we step back and take a look at our families and our community, do we take the time to offer words of instruction or encouragement to others? Do we accept words of instruction or encouragement from others with gratitude, feeling grateful for the caring relationships that we have?  This is simply something to think about as we navigate life’s adventuresome pathways!


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