Twenty-three years ago this summer I backpacked down the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab Trail with seven kids from my youth group and came up Bright Angel a week later. Each day we packed our gear at three in the morning so we could begin our hike before the heat kicked in full blast. By the last morning of the trip, I was utterly spent. The steep climb out of the canyon left me feeling like maybe I wouldn’t make it. Maybe I’d be stuck on that trail forever.
I stopped moving about a half mile from the canyon’s rim, unsure how to muster up the strength to keep going. It didn’t matter I could see the end. Getting there felt near impossible.
That’s when I experienced a simple act of kindness that has lived with me ever since. My youth sponsor, Jim, told me I wouldn’t finish alone. We’d make it to the top together, one hundred steps at a time. Step by step we counted, resting after every set. While before the half mile had felt unsurmountable, broken down in tiny bits with someone else to walk beside me, it was doable. It was accomplishment and gratitude and so much celebration.
As I near the end of a complete manuscript overhaul in the midst of first-round edits (the second time I’ve re-written this book, by the way), I’ve thought a lot about that moment. I’m a few weeks out from my deadline, and honestly, I’m not sure of the words needed to make it to the end. Right now my focus must be each tiny writing moment, where the story moves forward, step by step.
Friends, I need an extra dose of courage and a second wind, if you have any to offer. Things will be quiet around here until I’ve turned my work in.