I am home and in resting mode for today. I'm tired, but not totally wiped like I was when I came home in December. I did do one small task that had to be completed before the end of April and also went to the store to get the fixings for salad.
I've been thinking as I near the end of this hike, about other hikers who inspired me. Bill Irwin comes readily to mind. He was the first blind hiker to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, which he did in 1990. He died in 2014.
His story is even more remarkable than his blindness. He became blind as a result of a medical condition, but he says that ironically, he was never able to see until he became blind. His personal life was in shambles and he was an alcoholic. Then he had an encounter with the God of the Bible.
A few years later he became convinced that God was telling him to hike the Appalachian Trail. He was never a hiker when he had sight, and couldn't believe that this was what he was being asked to do. But he finally agreed.
There is a 20-minute video called Amazing Grace that is worth watching. It's been re-recorded from a VCR tape, so you'll have to forgive the quality of some sections. Amazing Grace
Although the video is entitled "Amazing Grace," it contains a song written for/about Bill called "Maker of Mountains." I have sung that to myself many a day on this hike so far. Here's the chorus: When your mountains are many, and you stumble and fall, blind eyes can see His glory, deaf ears can hear His call. When your way seems dark and dreary, and your back's against the wall, look to the Maker of mountains and Master over all."
But here's the kicker. Bill always said that the point of his hike was NOT what you might expect, "If I can do this, you can do it too."
What he wanted people to see was, "God will take care of me, no matter how weak I am."
In 1995, at the first NCTA Conference I ever attended, Bill Irwin was one of the speakers. Not only did I get to meet Bill and have him sign his books to me, but his guide dog, Orient, was also there. Orient had been retired from working, but was still Bill's companion. I wish I had pictures, but I didn't have a camera with me at that event.
As I near the end of my current hike, I want to be sure to say that although I am humbled by how many times people call me "amazing," I am not. I am stubborn- I've only quit a couple of major projects in my life. But stubbornness can be a liability as much as it can be an asset. I have not had the assurance that this hike was something God specifically wanted me to do. But it looks as though he is allowing me to finish a second time. There could still be a major catastrophe, but with only about two weeks of hiking days left, the chances are lower than they were 16 months ago when I started out.
I just want to say, don't look so much to me as inspiration (although I'm happy to have encouraged many of you in your dreams), but do look to the Maker of mountains.
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