Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Paddling Toward a Fresh Route—the Light You Cannot See

Aren’t you astounded by the impact of a single glimmer of hope in what seems like hopeless darkness? What if the glimmer doesn’t show? Can you still believe it’s there?

I hold the utmost admiration for people who can sustain hope and bright expectations in the face of absolute gloom. I’m not always among them. I remember sitting in the bow of a canoe that was largely powered by my dad. We had unknowingly taken the wrong branch of the wilderness stream we were following, traveling far beyond the weedy entrance to the lake we were seeking. Ahead lay a stretch of white water rapids we hadn’t anticipated and couldn’t see through the underbrush. I had steered us through the first rapids into a black pool. Now we were facing the roiling passage out of the other side of the stagnation. My dad, exhausted from a long, lo-ng day of paddling, shouted to me above the roar. “Susie, tell me which way! Navigate us through!”

No matter how I strained (I couldn’t let my family down!), I could spot no passage through the rocks. “There is no way!” I wailed, suddenly acutely aware of the shortcomings of being twelve. I hung onto a limb from the shoreline while my dad stepped out of the canoe to see for himself. He immediately disappeared into the brackish water. My fault! I concluded with horror. I’ve drowned my dad!

“We’ll camp here,” he muttered through clenched teeth as he surfaced and fought his way to the swampy shore with our bowline in hand. “Tomorrow we’ll go back. We missed something. We’ll find our way or go home.”

My insistence that we could not possibly proceed turned out to be fortuitous. We learned later we had backed away from a hidden waterfall that our inexperienced family would have been unlikely to survive. Sometimes “hopeless” faltering is a hint that the future can bring welcome relief.

Enter those who remember the light when they can’t see it. My heroes. I remember a Black guest on a talk show who was asked what he thought of the hateful racists demonstrating in the United States at the time. He said something like, “We’ve been doing this for a couple hundred years. We aren’t about to give up now.” His stoicism impressed me.

Statisticians say it was the votes of Black women in Alabama that prevented an accused pedophile from being seated in the U.S. Senate. In fact, Black women are among the many supposedly disenfranchised minorities presently pursuing public office. I can see their light! When I tape the mouth of my fear closed, I can sense a bright future—perhaps brighter than we’ve ever seen before—waiting for us to earn it with courage, determination, and unity.

In this season of holidays, what better time to recall the stupendous power of adaptability and believing? Regardless of whatever dire situation in which you find yourself personally, professionally, or socially, there are insights to learn, growth to nourish, fresh paths to pursue. This life wasn’t designed to be easy. Feel the light you cannot see. Navigate us through!

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