Have you been listening to the news much lately?

Sometimes when I take in the world with all its pain and division, with its screaming voices and tears, it’s just too much.

I start to wonder if it will ever get better- or if this is just the way it is now…if this is the way we are now.

Last week it bothered me so much that I decided to run away from home.

Well, I ran away with my sweetheart and my youngest son. We went to the mountains for the cool air and the trails. And for the food I didn’t have to cook and the house I didn’t need to tend to. But mostly we left for the cool air and the trails.

While I was walking on one of those trails, I met someone who told me something I needed to hear. Maybe you might enjoy his wisdom too.

Todd and Sam and I had just hiked down to see this beautiful waterfall when it happened. I had just stood beside the water and listened to the rush and felt the mist. It made me think of all the world’s tears cascading down the rock face of earth, falling and falling down to its shoulders. There wasn’t an end. The water just kept coming and coming.

Enough, already, I thought. Maybe I should take a few minutes on a happy mini-vacation to be a normal person who doesn’t brood over the world going to hell, so I decided to be peppy for a minute. “Let’s take a selfie,” I said, so we crowded together and let the sun shine our faces and the mist wet our backs and we took a photo of us smiling.

Then we headed back up the trail.

We could hear a family with little kids on their way down. It was a narrow path, so we stopped walking to let them pass, but they seemed to have stopped as well.

As I walked toward them, I saw that there was a dad and two kids, maybe a three year old and a four year old.

“Hi there,” I said. “It’s a great day for a walk.”

The dad nodded.

“It’s gorgeous below,” I added. “Definitely worth the hike.”

“YEAH YOU BETCHA,” said the three year old. “CAUSE LOOK WHAT WE FOUND! WE FOUND IT! WE ALMOST MISSED IT BUT WE FOUND IT!!!”

I looked.

I didn’t see anything but a big rock by his little black shoes. And dirt. And some falling apart leaves.

“DO YOU SEE IT?”

“ISN’T IT COOL?”

“I’m afraid I don’t. Can you show it to me?”

“IT’S RIGHT THERE! SEE? A LITTLE CATERPILLAR! WE MIGHT HAVE MISSED IT BUT WE DIDN’T BECAUSE I’VE GOT SHARP EYES AND I SAW IT! AND IT MIGHT TURN INTO A BUTTERFLY BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT CATERPILLARS DO. I’VE GOT A BOOK ABOUT IT SO I KNOW.”

I looked and there I saw it, in the miniature world beside a stepping stone, on a small trail in the Blue Ridge Parkway, there was a tiny creature that this little boy noticed. I’m not sure it was even a caterpillar- it could have been some kind of millipede- but he saw it. He saw it and was thrilled that it existed. HeĀ  hoped it might turn into the beautiful butterfly that maybe it was meant to be.

Or maybe it’ll stay a beautiful millipede that maybe it was meant to be. Either is good.

Today I’m thankful for that little boy in the black tennis shoes. He showed me that when the vastness of the world’s hurt starts turning rushing waterfalls into tears, I’ll do what little things I can to make a change, to stand up for what I believe in. But after that, I’m going to look right under my own feet for the world of goodness God has to show me. And if I can’t find it, I’ll go hang out with kids. They always know where to look.