This post was a favorite of mine when it first appeared here on the Gravel Road in 2010, and it’s still one of my favorites on this Fantastic Friday. When you read it, I hope that you agree.
It’s a Beautiful Hill, Isn’t It?
The other morning, I was nearing the end of my walk, trudging up a steep hill in the park . Not wimpy steep. This hill is truly steep. And long. Very long.
A tall jogger approached from behind, huffing and puffing and gaining rapidly – so I moved to the side of the path. His arms pumping, he barely lifted his feet off the ground as he wheezed past. Still, he flashed a broad grin and gasped, “It’s a beautiful hill, isn’t it?”
I nodded at his long, lean, retreating back and thought of the young adolescent boy I’d seen a while earlier in the morning on this very same hill. I was on my way down the hill, and he was wobbling along on his bike, heading to the middle school.
We go to the same church, and I’ve watched him with interest over the years. Diagnosed with high functioning autism some years back, life hasn’t been easy for him. Social cues often escape him. Impulsivity is his enemy. Subtlety, irony and tact are lost on him. But thanks to supportive parents who love him unconditionally and realistically, he’s learning to cope.
As his bike swerved up the sidewalk, I stepped into the grass to give him more room. Then, I greeted him, the same way I always do on the mornings when our paths cross.. “Good morning, Fred!”
Most days, Fred’s response is a brief nod with eyes averted, nothing more. But this time was different. Fred braked, put a foot on the ground to balance himself and looked my way. “What’s your name again?” he asked.
“Jolene,” I replied. “Jolene Philo.”
Fred looked me straight in the eye and smiled. “Good morning, Jolene.” Then he swung his other leg over the bike and pedaled up his truly steep, very long hill.
I watched him tackle the steep incline he faces every day of his life. It is a beautiful hill he’s climbing, I thought as he reached the crest. A beautiful hill indeed.