I stumble in the semi-darkness over the ski clothes strewn around the living room after yesterday's adventures. Feeling around, I can detect the rubber soles of my running shoes under the mess. Bingo. Now I'm laced up, and ready to go. My sleeping husband, gently snoring, has to leave in a couple of hours. I make a mental note to be back in time to kiss him goodbye.
The air outside is colored and warmed by slanting sun rays, it smells like spring. This is a strange contrast to the fresh blanket - no, thick downy comforter - of snow piled in banks and on the trunks of trees. I sure hope the trails are navigable with my mesh sneakers.
It was our last morning in Germany after a week of playing in the snow. We had a 9-hour car trip ahead of us, and I figured I should stretch the legs a little bit. Ha. That would be an understatement.
The first climb was steep, and I took it slow. From the top of the hill behind our resort, I could just see the snow-covered peaks of the Austrian Alps beyond, the valley below was cloaked in early-morning fog. After this, lots of joyful, crazy little switchbacks back down, through farms and fields and forest. The turn-around point I had decided on beforehand was "Hinterhalden", and I muttered this magical-sounding word under my breath every mile or so, like some incantation that would spirit me away to that promised place. (By the way, I looked it up in a dictionary later on, and was much disappointed to discover that it meant "behind the rubbish heap". So much for my German fairy tale.)
Suddenly, I'll pulled up short by a glance down at my watch. It's been 45 minutes already? My hunt for Hinterhalden was, so far, futile. I nervously trotted a little faster, and then a little faster, hoping for a sign. Finally it came, along with a very helpful map. (I love Germany. Did I mention that already?) I had run clear past my objective, apparently, and was in the next village. Definitely time to do a 180. The valley was bubbling with a very exuberant creek, as happy as I was about the combination of recent snowfall and warmer temperatures. A heron and a hawk looked at me as I jogged past, but didn't seem too worried. All was well, until...
Until it came time to go up again. Now, I knew exactly where I was (well, not the coordinates or anything, like my Dad can with his fancy Garmin) and where I needed to be, but the question was, how? There seem to be no marked paths climbing the valley, and it was too late to go back the way I came. I began to despair of seeing Karl before his departure. He was leaving in the first car to motor back to Paris early, and I wanted so badly to say goodbye. Alas.
At this moment, low in various respects, it somehow finally occurred to me to ask the Lord for help. Why it always takes me so long to ask an omnipotent God to give me a hand is beyond me, part of the human condition, I guess. I shot up a prayer, and within a couple of minutes, my eyes fastened upon a blessed arrow labeled "Malas - 10 min" which pointed a snaky trail up the hill. Glory be. The climb left me wet, laughing, exhausted, and deposited me directly in front of our hotel. I love curbside service.
I have seen this principle at work so many times in life - just when I think there is no possible way to get over the mountain, He opens up a new way. (With some of us, He has to show us quite literally.) Just like the old spiritual says:
So high, you can't get over,
So low, you can't get under it,
So wide, you can't go 'round it,
You must go in at the door.
He is with us in every stride and swoosh.
P.S. I did catch Karl before he left, for those of you still in suspense.