Last Saturday my husband and I headed out to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to walk the three mile trail and soak up all the greenery. We’ve had a lot on our minds as our daughter graduates from high school. Of course we are excited for her, but with that excitement comes the normal worries about what comes next. Will she really like her choice of college? How will she manage being away from home? Will she figure out how to be more organized despite a very long track record of not being organized? Will she make friends, check her email, remember to eat breakfast, and call home? As importantly we wondered, how will we manage having her away from home??? 

As we walked and talked we got thinking about our own experiences graduating from high school and heading out into the world. Neither of us took a straight trail from high school to college to graduate school. Neither of us graduated from the college we started at, kept the majors we declared at age 18, or accurately predicted the careers we have now and love. Neither of us took the trail expected of us, nor would we go back and change a thing, even the hard parts. About halfway through our walk we saw this sign: “SHORTCUT.” 

The irony of the sign made us laugh as we were discussing life’s trails. The arboretum may offer a shortcut if you get tired and want to head back to the comfort of the visitor’s center, but life doesn’t. It’s all trail – offshoots, detours, smooth sections, and potholes. Our trails go uphill and down; they are rocky and peaceful; they are clearly marked and they head into the unknown. There might be benches along the way where you can sit and rest, but there are no shortcuts. We kept walking, fortunately, because we ended up surrounded by stands of gorgeous rhododendrons in full bloom. We were delighted by the vivid colored blooms that spilled over each other and the bees buzzing in and out of the flowers, and we were very much aware that had we taken the shortcut we would have missed this spring splendor. 

We let our worries go (a little bit) remembering that we couldn’t really control what our daughter’s trail was going to look like. All we know for sure is that our daughter’s trail is her trail. It is her trail to travel, to navigate, to explore, and learn. There will be bumps, detours, and hopefully some smooth sailing. But there are no shortcuts. Looking back on our own experiences we know that while the detours and the bumps in the trail were hard we were not alone. God was with us on each section of the trail. And our trail has brought us right to this moment: launching our loved one into the world as best we can and trusting that God will be with her on her trail. I just hope she sees some wildly brilliant blooms along the way. 

In Peace, Pastor Ruth

Let us pray:
Lead us, Gracious God, and shape us by the grace of Christ and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts to expand our understanding of love and kindness, that we may grow in our ability to reflect your love and kindness to those we meet this day. All this we ask in the name of Christ, Amen.