Yesterday my guy texted our oldest and suggested that the three of us take the dogs out to a trail she discovered months ago. We take the beasts for walks in the neighborhood almost daily, but our girl is known for venturing out with them and coming back with tales of beauty and risk. We packed up the truck and headed out before dinner.
Our daughter found the area in the Spring and had told us all about it, the way it was a forest preserve that butted up to a neighborhood and led to a river, she had even taken me out to the trailhead once but we didn’t get out of the car. I don’t remember why that was. As we were driving there, she warned us that the trail could be overgrown this late in the summer and honestly I was hoping it would be, so we could just run the dogs in the usual field and I could start dinner.
But the trail was perfect. We walked through a high grassy area to the tree line and a whole new world opened up to us. The dogs ran ahead, so excited to be back in nature’s playground. Our voices reverberated off the trees and I was reminded of my hours spent in the woods when I was little. As we hiked, we talked with our girl (I really do think of her as a woman, but she’s my girl) about her plans and her thoughts as she is leaving this state in just a few days. We reached our destination, the edge of the river and watched the water flow quickly, never to return to this precise place again. Our girl is spending time with friends this week, saying good-byes and I knew she was doing the same to this sacred place. We didn’t get to stay long because the sun was quickly setting, so it felt right to get moving.
As we were returning, (the trip back is always faster, isn’t it?) I had a realization about our daughter; a relationship with Jessica is very much like that hike we took. As someone meets her, they can quickly find a place to connect and begin a friendship, something that is known and comfortable like the field where we take our dogs each day. But there are a few people who will take the time to listen and hear who she really is, and ask if they can join her to see for themselves what she is talking about, and when they do, they are witnesses to something sacred.