Framing the Dialogue

Hiking Through

hiking throughSo I was early picking my wife up at the airport and had an hour or so to kill…more if her plane was delayed. I forgot my book and if you are not a ticketed passenger there are not many places you can go at the terminal. Fortunately there was a small newsstand open that had some books. I had selected a Tom Clancy novel and as I waited in line to pay I noticed a book called Hiking Through. I still purchased the Clancy novel, but when I sat down I noted the title and added the book to my Amazon Wish List and bought it a few days later. That chance “meeting” led me to a wonderful book and I only retold the story because it fits with the kind of magic author Paul Stutzman often describes occurring during his nearly 2,200 mile journey thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2008. Stutzman’s tale about his journey has many levels as hikers would enjoy recounting the struggles of the long journey; spiritual people obviously would appreciate the author’s struggles and conversations with God; and other just might enjoy the fellowship that develops between hikers sharing the journey.

“you quit your job, you are standing alone in a woods in Georgia, and you plan to hike 2,176 miles to Maine. You have never camped for more than a weekend in your life, and you intend to live in a tent for almost five months. Yes, indeed, that does make a lot of sense. Now get moving.”

The best thing that I can say about this book is that it is a very good tale, very well written, and very inspirational. The thru-hiker faces challenges both physical and mental and Stutzman provides enough detail to dissuade casual hikers from taking this challenge, “if it’s not the most important thing for you then don’t do it.” The quote may not be 100 percent accurate, but the message is. This hike is a total commitment.

“We were just two average men who had shared life on a difficult, 2,176-mile hike from Georgia to Maine. We’d met and become like brothers. We were family.”

Read Paul Stutzman’s account of his journey and feel part of it yourself. One of his compelling reasons to accept the challenge was to help deal with the loss of a loved one. A spiritual man and accepting of God’s Plan he still had questions about life and death. I am thankful that he shared both his physical and spiritual hikes.

“If you could comprehend heaven and the bliss your loved one is experiencing, and if you also had the power to bring that person back to earth, would you? When you can finally say, No, I would not bring her back, your journey to the other side of grief has begun. Perhaps instead of lamenting our unfortunate loss of loved ones, we should wonder why God chose them as fortunate enough to join his celestial city.”


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