In August 1977, my father turned 72, and I was at the ripe old age of 23. That November we made our traditional hunting trip to Upper Saint Regis Lake, and set up our base camp in my father’s work shop, for our week of hunting. We were hunting on the property around Henry Olmstead’s great log chalet. This was a beautiful, old “Adirondack camp” called Forest Lodge. Dad was the personal guide for Mr. Olmstead, and his wife Patricia, when they were in camp during the warmer weather. Dad was also the caretaker for the 125 acres of property, all of the year.
That Fall we hunted as we always did, and each of us was rewarded with a nice buck for the freezer. As always, my father also shot an additional doe the first day, and that was our “camp meat”. This was the fresh meat we feasted on during our entire time in hunting camp. Our yearly hunting week was a wonderful time of stories, roasted venison, early morning hunts and evenings by the wood stove with a hot cup of coffee. This was the stuff of memories that we all carried with us through the rest of our lives.
When this particular week was nearly over, I noticed a change in my father’s countenance. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a look on his face that said something had turned a corner within him, but he was not ready to talk about it. Then it happened on the last day of our hunt. As we headed back to camp, dad and I walked the pine scented trail between Bear Pond and camp in thought-filled silence. There was a light snow falling, and the snow flakes swirl around dad’s red and black, Woolwich cap. It was on this trail that the silence was finally broken by what needed to be said.
Dad looked back over his shoulder at me, and gave a sad smile. At that moment I knew something of importance was about to be spoken. His baritone voice then filled my ears with, “son, I’ve done plenty of killing in my time. My deer hunting days are over”. We paused on the trail as our eyes met, he nodded his head, and then we walked back to camp without saying another word. There was no discussion, no debate and no compromise in his voice. I knew it was a statement of fact, a resolved reality within his heart that would not be changed.
The shock of his words echoed in me, but there was nothing else to be spoken. In my mind I was thinking, “No, no no…how can this be? My dad, the last of the old-time Adirondack guides, is done hunting? How can I hunt without my father? This is just not right!” However, I respected his decision, and had to honor him for the choice he had made. In the end, I accepted the fact that this was the time for such a thing to happen, and true to form, Dad never hunted again. How fitting that two years later, on the last weekend of hunting season, my father died and went to be with his Savior.
We all have moments in life when we know it’s time. A bridge is crossed, a resolve is made or a decision is finalized within us, and there is no turning back. Those are sobering, solitary moments when time momentarially stops, and life takes on a new direction. When it’s over, things will never be the same. Want an example of what I mean? My two youngest sons enlisted in the Air Force six months apart. When each came home to tell me, I was thrilled and proud beyond words. I knew it was an answer to many years of prayer. However, when they drove down the driveway for the last time, heading for boot camp, I got choked up and then I wept! Why? I knew it was time for this to happen, and life would never be the same for them or our family.
Such things have to be embraced so we can all grow and move on in life. To falter, and hold on in moments like this, is deadly in so many ways. It’s like sand in the gears of a finely tuned automobile. You can do it, and some will, but the outcome is not going to good for anyone. Directional damage, confusion and unnecessary drama all mix together into a weighty emotional cement when we hold on to that which needs to be let go of. Whether it is a hobby, a relationship, a career choice or a piece of clothing, when it’s time, we must let go, or nothing will move to the next stage of life.
Remembering the past, and cherishing it’s good memories, is a blessing to everyone. This is the foundational base upon which a healthy life is built. It’s how clear, relational and historical continuity is established in everyone. However, when we move beyond happy memories, and hold on to people, practices and things long after the time of letting go, it becomes an anchor to the soul and a blockage to the flow of life as it should be. This becomes a source of bondage to everyone, and a destroyer of personal vision. It is the dream killer in every life.
As we get ready to plunge into a new year, take a moment to evaluate what you are doing, and where you are going. Is this the direction you wanted for your life? If your dreams have been smothered by the past, and you lack clear vision for the future, it is definitely time for you to let some things go. Set time aside this last week of 2017, and ask God to show you what people, places, past experiences and things need to be released. Until you cast off every weight that is holding you back, you will never catch the wind of that which can carry you into your future.
Now is the time to cut away every anchor that you have been holding on to. This is your chance to hoist those sails and catch the fresh wind of a new year as it is beginning to blow. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for, to have a new life and a new vision. It’s time… so go do it, and have a happy new year with the new you!