Occasionally when my family needs to travel on the highways crossing the mountains where we live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we see signs on the side of the road that read “Scenic Overlook”. At their high altitudes, these little off-road parking areas offer travelers a place to get out and stretch their legs while enjoying a panoramic vista of life down in the valley below.
There, we delight in tiny houses, picturesque churches, and little barns with shiny metal roofs. Small bodies of water sparkle in the sunlight and rural roads leisurely wind around fields of various colors. Miniature cars and tiny specks presumed to be farm animals proceed with their daily lives, totally unaware of the spectacular view they offer.
We never tire of stopping our journey, pulling our vehicle over, and stepping to the edge of the protective barrier to peer down into the tiny distant communities for a breath-taking view. This broad perspective gives us a sense of how far we have come, how high we have travelled, and how small we really are.
On these scenic overlooks, we often see groups of hikers or clusters of bicyclists and motorcyclists standing around leisurely talking with helmets or maps in hand. Some are vigilantly checking their equipment while others are busy pulling snacks and drinks out of their packs. With the strenuousness of careful travel set aside, this brief respite is good for the soul, productive for the mind.
Perhaps these travelers – as well as all survivors of life’s most surprising journeys – know that the momentum of moving forward is often fueled by pausing to remember where we have come from and revisiting what has been conquered in the past.
When March 6th arrives each spring, our family sadly remembers that our Zachary has been gone for another entire year. Yet, this sorrowful day is also an opportunity to take a deep breath and consider how far we have come. From those early heart-wrenching months of agony, we somehow moved past shock and horror and are now incorporating his death into our daily lives. Gratefully, we never let ourselves forget how faithful God has been to us:
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness.
Let the whole world know what He has done.
Sing to Him; yes, sing His praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Remember the wonders He has performed.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.”
(I Chronicles 16: 8, 9, 12a, 34)
A yearly “scenic overlook” on the anniversary of a loved one’s death is an opportunity for reflection. It shows a glimpse of the “bigger picture”: life is short, little troubles are insignificant, and relationships are extremely important.
Yes, the trip has been arduous, but certainly with the help of our Heavenly Father – who faithfully brought us this far, we can finish the journey with courage and hope. Striving to honor our Savior, we are all the while fully aware that our eternal home lies blissfully awaiting us somewhere beyond the next bend.