For many years I’ve been wrestling with the conundrum of moving forward safely on a beautiful hiking trail, while at the same time paying attention to the beauty of God’s creation all around me.


I am declaring here, that it cannot be done.


You must choose.


Forward steps OR paying attention.  

But not both at the same time.


I confess that I regularly evaluate the metrics of a walk in nature. How many steps? How much elevation? How fast was it completed? Is that less or more than the average hiker? I can be quite proud of these numbers.


Henri Nowen says that when you are writing a book of instruction it can be appropriate to talk about our life with God in phases, levels or stages. “But it is of great importance that we leave the world of measurements behind when we speak about the life of the Spirit.” [i]




When I began hiking I did not notice them.


Cairns… they are mysterious things.

Now they practically jump out to me. These markers give guidance when it is unclear which way the trail turns or where to go next. It’s interesting to me that these were placed there by people who have gone before me that I will never know. I trust these cairns, and therefore these people. I have never been misguided by a cairn on the trail.



Who, or what, are your “cairns?” 

Are you trained to see them?

Do you allow them to guide you?


“Subtle movements of the Spirit are discerned through the shifts in the wind of God’s activity in our life. To live spiritually is to seek to breathe with the Spirit’s rhythm and to move in a God-ward direction on the long walk of faith.” [i]


Where do you need to stop?

What’s beautiful and you’re missing it?



 Take care of your life with God while you are moving forward.

Pam, for the VP3 Team


[i] Henri J.M. Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit (Harper One, 2010) 130-131.


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