A young man and his father are running through the tall pines of a forest when the sun bursts suddenly over the horizon, releasing the earth from the soft, subtle glow of dawn...
"That sunrise, those colors-that's how I feel about him."
The trail meanders through the amber forest like an earthy ribbon--its twisting path only hinting at what lies beyond the next turn. It's an unpredictable trail, as life is, with steep climbs, sudden drops, rocky footing--rugged and demanding, yet beautiful.
"Sometimes I think I've been like this trail--perhaps a bit too well-marked. I'm not holding you back, am I?"
"No more than this trail, Dad."
"You want to lead for awhile?"
"Sure--can you keep up?"
With a smile on his face, the father steps aside. Their feet striking the frozen leaves create a pleasing rhythm of soft, crunching noises that draws the father's attention to his son's stride--it equals his own. The trail crosses a gurgling stream coming out of the rocks, then forks into two divergent paths. The son prances through the stream and veers to the left without hesitation, but the icy water bites sharply into the father's legs, returning his thoughts to the hazards of the trail.
"You sure you know where you're going?"
"Yep!" comes the son's confident reply.
The smell of juniper and pine greets them from the sun-baked ridge below. The father slips into the shadows of yesterday, when his father led him down a mountain trail. In those shadows his father is mute--he never knew him.
The shadows clear as they run through a meadow filled with glistening morning glory and violet lupines. The moisture on the flowers sparkles in the sunlight like a thousand tiny stars.
"Look at that Indian paint brush."
"Warriors guarding the trail, Dad. Every petal is a feather won for bravery."
The father is silenced by the power and depth of his son's imagination. As they run over a ridge and into the valley below, the son sees his mother waiting by the car. He waves to her, calls the dog, then runs off with it chasing him and wagging its tail.
"Hi. Have to wait long?"
"No, not long. How was the run?"
"Great. You know, he's going to be OK."
Smiling, they watch him disappear into the forest. He's no longer bound
by the limitations of their example -- he knows where he is going. He
is painting his own picture of who he is and passing it on to others.
Those subtle brush strokes that are his mother and father will live on
in him. He understands how deeply he has touched their lives. They are
assured of a permanent place in his...