Monday, November 26, 2012

Into the woods

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the overstuffed feeling, the turkey coma, and the air of gratitude are lingering evidence of the holiday season now in full swing. I love this time of year. When the warmth and wonder of tradition and family grab on for a month-long ride. But this thanksgiving something else hopped on. Something other than leftovers and a few, unfortunate, extra pounds. Something like… fear.

Holidays for the Simpson’s are always a marathon of activities and family time. We try to hit each side of the family, which usually equates to at least three celebrations of each holiday and severely nap-deprived toddlers. Our Thanksgiving celebration with my mother-in-laws side of the family was particularly exciting this year.

My mother-in-law, Janet, my sweet teenage niece, Kaylee, and I ended up wandering a trail in the woods with my little young-ins and two of my nephews, Austin and Eli, who are five and nine. Problem was that my little guys couldn’t quite keep up and so Kaylee had the big boys with her farther ahead. Of, course, boys will be boys and Austin and Eli got a little too curious—a little too big for their britches and slipped out of sight. Kaylee ran back to tell us that she’d lost them and so we split up, started on a scavenger hunt of sorts for the runaways.

Having long ago been the path for an old railroad, the trail was clear and wide, several paths branched off to beautiful open meadows that made me feel like I was traipsing through the storyworld of Bambi with my two wild fawns. For a few moments it all felt very innocent. Surely if we hustled ahead, covered a little more ground, we would see the boys just around a bend.

Wandering further, I started to realize with each step just how far we had ventured from home. How difficult it was to wrangle my own curious little brood alone, on unfamiliar terrain.

As the sounds of Kaylee and Janet’s calls disappeared on the wind, the moment sobered, matured. Panic set in, and amplified even more when the Bambi parallel became much too real and dangerous.


Fear so tangible and cold snaked its fingers around my spine. Someone was hunting—and two boys had run off through the maze of trees.

It’s moments like these when fear can run amok in your system, blot out your faith, your senses—blind you to everything, and swallow you whole.

How often do we feel like we are wandering through the woods? Our path unsure, the signs to look for unclear. Each trail appears the same and yet leads to a very different place. Which one is the right one? What might happen if we go the wrong way?

I tend to write a lot about fear, not only because I write suspense and they are inevitably intertwined, but because life is scary. Moments like these crop up when you least expect them, and even if we are firmly rooted in the truth, our faith can feel frail—wobbly when those mountainous doubts press down hard.

This little adventure had a happy ending. I ended up discovering the wandering troublemakers, squeezed the frightened breaths right out of them, and then gave them a firm talkin’ to.

Of course, then we had to find a way to track down the other two members of the search and rescue team, and finally make the long, exhausted trek back to Aunt Fran’s.

Life is full of uncertainties, sometimes even roadblocks. There may night always be a sign warning the dangerous curve ahead. But just remember, though the path may not be clear, there is a guide you can trust who knows the way.

When was the last time fear knocked you on your keester? And what do you do to navigate though all those doubts?

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! So thankful for you!