The Paths We Follow by David Palmer

The Paths We Follow by David Palmer
by

June 2018 I was on the Mountain at my favourite place the Kahui area back in May this year. Specifically I was on the Round the Mountain track (RTM) that passes through from the Kahui Hut. The Kahui is in the subalpine zone of the mountain where the trees have given way to alpine shrubs. The shrubs are still quite tall which means that as you walk along it is like walking in a deep ditch which you can’t see out of. As I was sitting beside the track having lunch, not being able to see out I was looking at the things closer to hand and noticed the track markings on a Kakaha’s (Astelia Nervosa) leaf. The bug that makes these tracks is the Astelia Leaf Miner, the caterpillar of the Zig Zag Moth (Charixena iridoxa). These are unusual in that the tracks are mined in the leaf before it is formed. All mining is carried out in the bulb of the plant at or just below the surface of the ground. As the leaf grows the mined gallery is stretched and elongated to form the zig zag track. The whole track is dependent on the position of the caterpillar and the rate of leaf growth.[i]. Not knowing this at the time I was fascinated by the tracks thus the photo. That fascination got me thinking about the paths we follow; how we are bound by many things as can be seen in the tracks; the edge of the leaf but also the rib of the leaf and the speed of growth constrains the track to progress in a specific way along the leaf. Show me your paths and teach me to follow; guide me by your truth and instruct me. You keep me safe, and I always trust you Psalm 25: 4 – 5 CEV.

When walking on the mountain the track in front of you takes on a similar significance, to get off it isn’t the best thing to try, so in the same way you are constrained by the track, bound to follow it however hard it might be because it is still the easiest way. The RTM is well frequented especially in summer as it circles the Mountain via the Kahui section which isn’t the only way but is the easiest (Relatively). But even here you will find that there are difficulties. Despite the large number of walkers the track is hard to recognise at times. It is clear that the track is in front because the subalpine shrubs constrain the way but the Kakaha blurs that certainty and introduces its own troubles. It hides the things that will trip you up. It has a nasty habit of allowing you to step on one end forming a loop into which your other foot catches and you make yourself known to the Kakaha’s roots. And then there is the Tātarāmoa (Bush Lawyer Rubis cissoids) which is like Blackberry on steroids just hanging across the track to catch the unwary and draw blood. Sometimes life feels like that; you are on the right track but things just seem to be holding you back, tripping you up, causing you to doubt, making you wonder if you will ever get through it.

 

Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.

Matthew 7: 13 – 14 CEV

 

My destination for this day was the top end of the Puniho track. At this point the RTM goes downhill following the Puniho but if you know where to look you can find the old RTM track and with a short bush bash you can find some awesome views of the mountain, the reward for all that effort. In this know that you can find your way; you might be a bit scared by the Tātarāmoa, bruised and wet because of the Kakaha, tired because of the effort but the destination you are seeking can be found. And like all journeys you will be changed by the things you experience along the way. Trust the Lord and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. Do what the Lord wants, and He will give you your heart’s desire. Let the Lord lead you and trust Him to help. Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right. Be patient and trust the Lord. Don’t let it bother you when all goes well for those who do sinful things. Psalm 37: 3 – 7 CEV

Tramping is not easy; it requires effort, it involves difficulty and challenge but the reward can be inspiring. My day on the Mountain got me thinking about the “Paths We Follow” the journey we make through life and how we are defined by that journey. So often what we see of a person is their present destination, who they are now. We rarely see the journey that they have travelled to get there. We may never know the Kakaha they have tripped over or how much they have bled from the Tātarāmoa scratches. The road that leads to life is described by Jesus as hard not easy.[i] A few fellow travellers have shared with me parts of their stories recently; the painful and hurtful things that they have faced in their lives. Things that they have worked hard with God to overcome and live. They have come through to life with stronger faith, still able to trust, still ready to share of themselves, still able to shine out love. What truly defines them however isn’t their present selves or their hurts, it is that they travelled the narrow path to get through these hurts to being the person they are today. I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run towards the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. Philippians 3: 12 – 14 CEV

 

Tramping requires carrying only what you need, excess stuff just weighs you down. You must rely on taking the things that will sustain you; food and water and a map to guide your path. But there are also the things carried in the pack that don’t always get used; like the coat and warm clothes, the first aid kit, the survival blanket. It is in the tough circumstances, when we can’t see the path ahead that we must get these things out; faith, trust, reliance on the Grace of God and the prayer of those on the road with us. It is these things, especially the lovely people that shine out their love of Christ, that truly sustain us; that get us home again. Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3: 5 – 6 NIV.

Tramping usually involves an established track laid out so that you can find your way by the easiest and safest path. You can try making your own way, bush bashing by compass is possible but hard and you must follow the rules. You must know where you are, where you are going and what lies between. There are times in life when we are tempted to try it on our own; but it is the valleys and ridges, the dead end between that catches us out. It then requires a willingness to become vulnerable, to risk that river of life again, to try again and again to make it across and through to life. We are not meant to be weighed down by the burdens of life or trudge on an endless treadmill of regret and sorrow. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11: 28 – 30 NIV

Finally we come home at the end of the day; tired, scratched, dirty but also renewed and refreshed in our souls because we have been with God in His creation. We are lead to the right path home because of authentic faith filled real friends. We are lead along that path so we can be free to enjoy Salvation through the Grace of Jesus

Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time He said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.” John 8: 12 CEV

Thank you Father that you are always with us guiding out paths, working on our journey so that we may find our home with you.

Thank you Father for the people you place across our paths that give substance and meaning to your loving presence with us

Thank you Father for the Love you surround me with on my less than straight path home

Amen


[1] Watt, Morris N. 1924. The Leaf-mining Insects of New Zealand: Part 4 – Charixena iridoxa Meyr.

[1] Bowers Mason, Paul. June 2018 Brooklands Parish Council Ministers Report

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