Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In October I had an opportunity to attend a workshop for pastors at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The campus is in a lovely part of the city, and the fall colors were a few weeks ahead of the foliage here in Rowan County. When I wasnít in the workshop or preparing for the next session, I enjoyed walking through the wooded areas around campus.
One day I found a path I had not yet taken, so I decided to try it. It was a lovely walk. A few fall wildflowers still bloomed along the way. The cool, moist air carried the spicy scent of autumn leaves. But the path was much longer than I expected. After a while, hunger gnawed in my stomach. I looked at my watch and wondered if I would get back before the seminary cafeteria closed. As the trail became steeper, I realized that it was muddy from a recent rain. A time or two, I almost slipped.
I was about to climb up a bank to the road above me in hopes of seeing the seminary when a man pushing a bicycle came up the hill.
ěExcuse me,î I said. ěI walked from the seminary and want to get back there. Is it close by?î
Dressed in his helmet and spandex, the middle-aged man had the sinewy build of a biker. He said that he hadnít been on that part of the trail before, but he had a map. He pulled it out, showed me where I was and pointed out the seminary. I had been mistaken about the length of the trail. If I kept going in the same direction, I would have had to hike to downtown Louisville before the trail curved back to the seminary. I needed to turn around.
Sometimes, life is like that walk in the woods. We think we are making progress when we actually are getting farther and farther from our destination. In order to get where we belong, we have to turn around and go back to where we started.
Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to return to where we started. Itís a time to remember the places we have been and the situations we have traveled through during the past year and, in fact, throughout our lives.
We can also give thanks to God for those who have helped us along the wayófamily and friends, teachers and co-workers, people we never see but who provide us with goods and services and information, and the occasional stranger who offers assistance. This Thanksgiving Iíll remember that nameless biker wearing spandex.
Who will you remember?
The Rev. Dr. Barrie Miller Kirby is pastor of Spencer Presbyterian Church.