Today, I want to invite you to come take a walk with me. A walk to somewhere peaceful, where I am going to offer you a story of hope.
Take my hand, and we will walk side by side. Do you feel the warmth of my palm? It’s so grateful to make contact with you.
Come, let’s go to a waterfall.
As you take in the waterfall, take in the smell of the trees, the sound of the rushing water, and the sensation of the air gently kissing your skin.
Feel your body relax. Feel the earth beneath your feet, and the sun shining down on your head.
With your gaze taking in the miracle of this natural beauty, I want to share a story of hope.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary and went to Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania. Neither of us had been there before, and it was one of the most magical hikes I have ever been on. On the 7 mile Falls Trail, we encountered waterfall after waterfall. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced, an abundance of breathtaking views and endless cascades of falling water with perfect weather.
It was also a very challenging hike. The Falls Trail was all natural, with very steep and wet steps that winded at all angles alongside the water. Our hearts were pounding in places and our backs were soaked with sweat beneath our backpacks. There was a lot of focus with each step we took on the descents as the stone was covered with running water in some places.
As we were at the halfway point and climbing a very long set of steps, I looked up and saw two people very slowly making their way down. And I noticed they were both holding long walking sticks and also holding each other’s forearms. At first I thought one of them was blind, but as I stepped to the side, I saw they were both had full use of their eyes, but had some kind of neurological muscular condition.
A man and woman, I watched them execute a beautiful dance of absolute trust. They took great time and care, and also used the weight of each other to make it down this dangerous natural staircase one step at a time. And having been on the trail yesterday as well, I knew how much they had already traversed together, and I didn’t see an ounce of anxiety on their faces. Their attention was on each other and where they were placing their feet.
Despite shaky legs, they worked together to create one flowing movement. It was beautiful, and everyone else on the trail had also stepped to the side to give them the space they needed. We were all an audience to their partnership.
After they passed, I said, “you guys are rocking it!” The man looked at me and his whole face lit up. He was having a good time.
And as I started to resume my own climb, all that resonated in me was this powerful teaching:
we are stronger together.
We have immense power individually, but it is when we come together in partnership that real magic occurs. Specifically when we are struggling, this is a time to lean on support, and when we have the right kind of support, it strengthens us, it strengthens our lives, and it strengthens our work.
And what this couple displayed so beautifully was their shared focus and energy. By themselves, they may not have been able to descend the steps, but together they could. Together they could enjoy the beauty of the park, and together they could actually tap into a wider support that would allow them to literally walk the trail. Instead of two legs and a walking stick, now they had four legs and two walking sticks. Their base of support doubled to six glorious points of balance.
The other piece they showed by coming together was how capable they were. Being together actually made them each stronger individually, and allowed them to reclaim their confidence. It was being arm in arm that allowed them to realize they had far more stability and could contribute to help the other person take the next step.
There is more than enough toxic messaging that points to how we are not enough, or not capable of facing challenges, and this couple is a beautiful reminder that despite what conventional society likes to say, it’s a lie. You are not defined by your limitations. You are not defined by your conditions, or labels. These may sound like if you cry, you are weak and can’t handle strong emotions. Or if you feel lonely or depressed, you can’t handle adversity or conflict.
But, I wanted to bring you to the waterfall today to remind you, you can. And you are. You are here, holding my hand and reminding yourself of your tender heart.
We are in a time of history where it can feel like an endless onslaught. You may feel shaky and unsure of your footing as you descend through all that is occurring right now. That is perfectly normal, and I honestly don’t know anyone who isn’t feeling this. I know I am.
Which is why we are holding hands.
Because we are stronger together.
So, take a moment and honor where you are. Honor the path is steep right now, and reach out for loving support. Reach out to a friend, loved one, partner, or snuggle close to your pet. Let your collective energy feed you and know it’s ok to lean on support right now.
In fact, it’s leaning on support that actually brings you life, because the truth is, we are all connected. We are in this together, and when you have the kind of support that holds your arm and dances with you despite your shaky legs, you will have the courage to take the next step.
Which I know you can, which is why I’m holding your hand.
Even if that next step is taking a breath, and actually coming back into your body after feeling overwhelmed, numb or scared. You can close your eyes and feel the cool spray of the waterfall, and know you are alive.
And you are not alone.
Can you feel the warmth of my palm?
That is the strength we create together. And that strength is unstoppable.