Today's guest post was written by my friend Annie K, who can write AND take amazing photographs. I happen to think she's combined both talents here beautifully. Enjoy.
I grew up surrounded by the forest, mountains, lakes and a river that flows through the town I call home. I always loved spending time out in the wilderness and the older I get the more I feel drawn to the winding trails and the solitude of what I consider one of the most peaceful places I know.
This time of year there are very few people on the trail and the stillness that surrounds me is incredibly comforting. The only sounds I hear are the faint jingle of Boz's collar, the occasional chattering of a squirrel that was most likely disturbed by said dog, the wind rustling through the trees and the sound of my footsteps as I make my way along the trail that is covered with fallen pine needles and Aspen leaves.
The leaves from the Aspens fall all around me as if they are being dropped from the heavens, and for a few hours, I watch the lazy river flow by, breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the colors of fall as if they were put there especially for me.
Yesterday, I made my way around one corner of the trail and I saw a flash of incredible color that went from red to orange, to gold and green. As I inspected it more closely, I realized that it was a part of an aspen tree that was in full fall color and had fallen. Recently.
Curiosity got the better of me and so I made my way down the steep rocky slope to get a better view. The moment I laid eyes on the base of the tree a smile crept over my face and two words escaped my lips as I looked down at Boz. "Dang beaver."
It's a shame to see this aspen lying on the ground, knowing that it is the last time it's going to produce such beauty, and all because some beaver thinks he's going to dam the Deschutes. But that is nature and I would never have enjoyed being so close to these brilliant colors had the tree still been standing.
I could walk this trail a hundred times an see it a thousand different ways. All because God instilled in me a passion for the outdoors.
As I walked and drank in the surroundings I thought about how this trail is a lot like my life. There are uphills and downhills, mountains and valleys, calm waters and rapids, twist and turns, rocky paths and clear paths, dark places and places full of light. I see the trail in black and white and astounding color. I can think I've got it all figured out, turn a corner and see the trail from a different angle and realize I'm seeing something I didn't notice before. I can find beauty in all of it because I know that God was the creator of this incredible place and He gave me a passion, a deep desire to be out on this trail enjoying his creation.
And that is how I should see my life. No matter what mountain I'm on or valley I'm in, or how dark the day may be, or what twists and turns I'm facing I should be able to see the beauty in the trail God is leading me down because that is the plan He has for my life. I should walk down the path with my eyes wide open, so as not to miss what it is I have to see while embracing life in color and the contrast of black and white. The rocky path needs to be faced with a spirit of determination and the dark places maneuvered by His light on the path.
I believe we find incredible beauty in whatever we are passionate about. Our lives, no matter what the situation should be lived with the same passion for fear we'll miss what's around the next turn in the trail.
To read more from Annie, visit her at Buzz by Annie's, her photography blog, Annie's Daily Picture, and follow her on the twitter at @buzzbyannies.