AS we came up over the steep rise and looked down into the valley, there was the sight I had been hoping not to see. Our hiking trail would pass through a broad meadow full of livestock. I had never been at all comfortable walking through herds of cattle, horses, or other animals. And for years I had avoided hikes or walks where I might encounter them. When my husband told me he was to lead the inaugural outing for our budding community hiking club, however, I knew there was a great opportunity here.
Opportunity? Yes! I knew the hour had come for me to outface my fear. Yes, I was afraid! But here was a very real opportunity for me to deepen my trust in God and rely on His completely dependable care. From early days in a Christian Science Sunday School, I had learned that God is infinite, everywhere-present Love. I knew I didn't have to let fear keep me from joining the hike. The Bible tells us that Christ Jesus often reassured those seeking healing with the words ``Be not afraid."
As I reached out to God in prayer for ideas to prepare me for this hike, the word path came to mind. Job tells us: ``There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen." That was the path I needed to be on for our hike--the path where we would always be safe because God was caring for us. Job continues: ``The lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. . . . He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing." We are all pr ecious to God--both man and beast. And man--our true, spiritual identity--is God's beloved child, always cared for and protected.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, answers the question ``What is man?" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Part of what she says is: ``Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas. . . ." It seemed to me courage was certainly a right idea here, and an integral part of my identity as ``the image, of Love."
So, the five of us started out on a beautiful, sunny April day dappled with clouds. The hills were green and swatches of blue lupine had begun to appear. My husband was an excellent hike leader, expert at balancing energetic climbs upward with pauses to enjoy the view and hear some history of the area. However, the minute we opened and closed the cattle gates to start on the hike, I knew there would be challenges. As we came to the last part of the hike and gazed down on this enormous field of cattle at the bottom, I wondered if I could handle it.
Off we went down the mountain path; we passed directly in front of and sometimes between animals in this large herd. They scarcely noticed us. For me that was the last of that fear. Never again would I make excuses to avoid a hike, wherever the path. It has been a joy to be able to accompany my husband on many hiking adventures since then.
Science and Health explains good as ``God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action." A great word: omniaction! If God, good, is the only action and is all-acting, there could be no random cause for frightening scenes or aberrant action.
My final examination--the final proof to me that I was permanently healed--came later when I was invited to assist with the hosting of a two-week walking tour in Wales and England--across acres and acres of farm pastures. Because I at last refused to let fear spoil my fun and progress, I have been enjoying, really enjoying, these opportunities to get out on the hiking trails of the world and appreciate every precious thing in God's universe.