Last fall I had the chance to travel one of my favorite roads, Highway 61 to Winona. Because I started out at 5:45am, I was just reaching Lake Pepin when the sun rose above the water. It was a most beautiful sight. It was still a little too early to see the fall colors. I wondered if there would even be that much color on the trees because of the lack of rain.
A few days after this I found myself on a very different road. One that led me off the beaten path. I decided to walk down to Mounds Park.
It was a nice afternoon. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid 70s. Once in Mounds Park I hit the trail. I walked down toward the Swede Hollow trail. I planned on retracing my steps from a few weeks ago. But then I reached a crossroads. I noticed a sign that said "Bruce Vento Wildlife Sanctuary" and saw that there was a gravel trail leading into it. Since I'm usually game for a little exploring, I decided to head south instead of north. Grasshoppers were flying around my legs. The trail became a path. I quickly found myself down by the Shepherd Road railroad tracks. Soon I was on one-lane gravel road that parallels the train tracks. I kept looking to see if there was a way back up to Mounds Park. But there were only steep and rocky cliffs for as far as I could see. I finally hopped the tracks and walked on the sidewalk between Shepherd's Road and the river. I looked north to Mounds Park and noticed a steep wooded area. I decided to chance it. I re-crossed Shepherd's Road and started the steep climb up the bank. It took ten minutes of difficult hiking before I reached the top. I was climbing a trail I had descended a few weeks earlier. I was looking forward to sitting on a picnic bench when I reached the top, but this was not to be. To my surprise this entire area was filled with people, with more on the way. At first I thought I had stumbled onto a New Age ceremony. Girls and women had butterfly wings on. There were balloons. Then I noticed some had gift bags. I now wondered if it was a birthday party. I saw some men dressed up in costume. If it was a birthday party, it was the largest birthday party I had ever seen. I'm still not sure what was going on. Maybe they thought the same thing about me. "Who was that man who came out of the woods, from nowhere, by the cliffs?"
As I think about my trip to Winona last fall, and my hike in the park a few days later, I can't help but think of Robert Frost's famous poem: The Road Less Traveled.
You and I, and all disciples of Christ are on the road less traveled. It’s the road Jesus described in The Sermon on the Mount: "Enter through the narrow gate because the gate and road that lead to destruction are wide. Many enter through the wide gate. But the narrow gate and the road that leads to life are full of trouble. Only a few people find the narrow gate. (Matthew 7:13-14).
The Christian road is not an easy path. Jesus says that the road that leads to life is full of trouble. But it does lead to life. Thanks be to God.
We are walking together on the road less traveled. We are walking together on the narrow road to life everlasting.