The waterfall crashing and tumbling over the precipice shimmers in the night like polished silver. Our shoes sink softly into the trail as we climb through the forest toward the silver light. I feel the roots across the path underfoot, the rocks, the incline. We are silent. The night is not.
What might be heard in the forest if the waterfall were silent? I am not dull to the dangers. A bear. A sudden drop. A limb in the face. Does my companion fear these too but continues forward as I do? The intrigue of wonderment encourages us. We are, after all, together, not exactly alone.
If we don’t think about where we are and why, we can absorb every sensation. We can continue. We can smell the pines and spruces, feel the tingle of moisture on our faces, hear the power in the falling water. We can imagine the jagged journey of the river dropping into the valley. We can trust our feet to carry us safely.
The water’s thrashing, crushing sound reverberates against the stone walls. Our feet slip on slabs of granite. Water rains down on us. We shiver.
We have walked how far? How far away from our tent, our camp stove, the children in their sleeping bags?
Led by our senses, we have tasted the air, skirted stiff pine boughs, and reached the edge of the silvery cascade.
Midnight marks more than the turn of one day to another. In four hours the sun will change the night scene from mystery to reality, and convert it to memory.
We turn and retrace some facsimile of our previous trail. Back to the children, to the campground, to the road that leads to the highway in the valley, to home and all else.
There is a godly balance between from where and whom we come, to where we may go, and to when and whom we must return — and what we may carry with us.