China Daily just published my latest monthly column, titled Finding the faith to move forward in the darkness, on their official WeChat account. It’s about this one time several years ago when my husband and I found ourselves lost in the dark on mountain, with no clear trail. Here’s an excerpt:
When the mountain trail you thought would take you downhill suddenly ends in a great snarl of thorny bushes, and it’s nearly dusk, you know there’s trouble ahead.
That’s the situation my husband Jun and I faced years ago when we decided to summit the mountain at the center of his rural village in Zhejiang. And I never imagined that, in getting lost there, I would find something far more important.
While we had always wanted to reach the top, which drove us to hike there in the afternoon, we hadn’t planned for such a precarious descent. But our experience hiking around the village and its hidden network of unofficial trails should have prepared us for this possibility.
How many times had we followed a well-trodden dirt path, only to have it stop in a thicket of weedy grass or a maze of bamboo? In fact, the very trail we used to climb the mountain had also disappeared into the woods, forcing us to improvise a way through a dense cluster of bushes and trees.
However, the summit appeared deceptively neat, with a clearing and what seemed to be a far easier trail winding down the other slope of the mountain. We thought it would be a fast, straightforward trip back, until the trail petered out and left us stranded in the remnants of abandoned fields swallowed up by layers of weeds and crawling thorns, stretching down the mountain as far as we could see.
If we wanted to make it back home, we would have to blaze our own way out of there, in the dark.
As a lifelong hiking enthusiast, I had logged hundreds of miles on trails in parks across the US, my home country, but never at night. And yet there we were, trapped on the side of a mountain in near darkness with no established trail at all.
I felt scared, beyond just the fact that walking ahead meant facing a prickly field of thorns. I worried we might take the wrong step and tumble down, or fall into something even worse than those thorns, since we couldn’t see the ground. How could we possibly move forward?
“Just take one step at a time,” my husband told me. “Don’t worry.” It was his way of encouraging me to have faith.
Faith is something I’ve struggled with in life, and being on that mountain was a test for me. It took all of my resolve to lift my foot up and place it among those thorns.
You can read the rest of the column right here. And if you like it, share it! Also, if you would like to hear me read the article, check it out on the China Daily official WeChat account.