We walk down a familiar trail, on a hike for my oldest younger brother’s birthday. It’s a path that we have been on before…..and will most likely go down again. A beautiful path, full of twists and turns, sharp steep hills, beautiful views, and huge boulders to climb. There are breathtaking waterfalls, caves and hollows, and rock crevices to explore. It is so peaceful to be in the forest, surrounded by our Creator’s beautiful masterpieces.Yet, as we walked down this familiar path, something is different. It took a minute to figure what, exactly, it was. Then, looking through the lens of the camera, taking pictures of sweet little faces laughing in awe, I realized.The boys! The boys being with us was what was different! I realized very quickly that these trails were familiar to me, and the other girls…..We used to go camping up here often. Our favourite state park. There were times when our family of seven would pack up and go, leaving for the weekend. Five children later, we don’t do that any more. We need time to plan. Do laundry. Pack and cook for our family of twelve =)Why were the boys making this different? When we went down these trail, we had girls. Five girls. All of us were inquisitive. And would go “exploring”. We would climb up the rocks a few feet in the air, and that was good enough for us. Coaxed by our father, who liked rock climbing when he was younger, we would climb higher, with legs trembling with trepidation. Even I — the practical one, would climb — after carefully weighing the dangers. And there were several of us girls who could climb up, but couldn’t get back down. And Mom would stand at the bottom giggling at us.The boys just go…..anywhere! After receiving a “Yes” to the question of climbing rocks, they climbed. Did they think of the danger? No. Did they worry about falling off the rocks and plunging to almost certain death (O.K. — maybe not death….but broken bones and painful bruises =D)? Absolutely not. They weren’t concerned about getting hurt and falling; weren’t worried that they were on the very edge of a precipice. They were having fun!They kept climbing into the crevices and caves….unconcerned about possible creatures — namely spiders — that would be living there.There were many of “those moments”…..you know the ones — where you don’t really want to look because of what might happen, but at the same time you can’t take your eyes away.There were many shouts of laughter. Many times I heard “Wow — look at this!” “Look what I found!” “Look how pretty!”And you know what else? The familiar became something new. The same beautiful trail that we have been down so many times in the past nine years became full of new experiences. Because I was experiencing the wonders and enjoying the creation of God through new eyes — little people eyes, where everything is a new experience.So often when I was young I prayed for a brother. The Lord saw fit to bless me with four — and with a new little one on the way, it may soon be five! I would pray for an older brother — and I have all younger brothers. I get to watch them grow up and mature. I get to help them be men of valour and I get to experience their budding manhood firsthand. I get to hear my brother say, “It’s raining — I’ll bring that to the car for you.” I get to walk beside my brothers in the dark while they hold my hand in one of theirs, and a flash light in the other, all in the name of protecting me. I hear constantly “Come look what we built!” I hear plans being discussed for a zip-line they dream of building one day, and the next day they are riding on it. I experience them asking me to dance, honoured when I say yes. In a sense, I watch them become men. Future fathers. Husbands. I watch them get hurt, and get back up, totally unphased by what would have made me cry. I’ll tell you a secret: little brothers turn ordinary experiences into the extraordinary!
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