Life Lessons from the Wahrani Trail

I hiked the Wahrani Nature Trail yesterday for the first time.  Amazing how such encounters with God’s creation turn into metaphors as I deal with life’s challenges, twists and turns.

I’ve been thinking and praying these days through my doubts, fears and insecurities. Am I on the right track? Am I doing God’s will, or just following my own agenda… trying to bargain and manipulate God into granting my selfish requests? A hike in the woods seemed a good way to get away from distractions and really listen.

2014-09-10 11.38.06Wahrani is a 3.1 mile, moderately difficult trek through a wooded area in New Kent County, just off Route 33 southwest of West Point.

The trail starts off well-marked. But pretty quickly the markings become obscured. I accidentally got off the main path, and should have known when I found myself bushwhacking through small trees and fording small streams.

2014-09-10 11.15.19Finally, when I emerged from the underbrush and saw the back corner of the Henrico East Jail (yes, it is located in New Kent County!) I realized the error of my ways and backtracked.

The trail is well-marked much of the way. There are plastic blazes nailed to trees, sturdy footbridges and signs pointing back to the parking lot.

2014-09-10 11.23.21At other points, the blazes are subtle and the trail indistinct.

There are occasional maps posted along the way, although some have deteriorated and others are not very helpful.

I knew a major road was nearby, but I often felt completely lost. The deeper into the woods I walked, the fewer the markers. Where are the signs when you need them?

One foot in front of the other. Follow what seems to be the path. One step at a time. Don’t give up. Keep going. Use the best information available at the time. And then, blessed assurance, the trail opens up and a bold blaze appears!2014-09-10 11.11.26

The highlight of the hike was coming upon the site of the old Warreneye Church. I can imagine it probably sat on a high bluff overlooking the spot where the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Rivers combine to form the York. But now the trees block what once may have been an impressive view. There are no signs of the church itself nor of the major road along which it was built.

2014-09-10 10.54.07All that’s left are two graves in an 18th century cemetery.

I stopped to contemplate the brief lives of  Captain John Long, who died at the age of 25, and Dr. Thomas Arnott, who lived 58 years. They were buried in 1736 and 1745, respectively. Little is known of either. But the inscription on Long’s marker is beautiful and poetic.

Sobriety, justice and truth,
Adorned the soul of this sweet youth,
But that soul we hope is gone
unto a better State and home.
And when the last land trumpet shall sound,
And wake the nations under ground,
He shall we hope then live and stand:
Among the sheep at Christ’s right hand.

God, give me ears to hear and eyes to see.


One thought on “Life Lessons from the Wahrani Trail”

  1. I’ve been by that trail often on the way to Toppings VA, where my sister lives. Nice thoughts David. One foot in front of the other…keeps you focused on the present and not constantly trying to project an unfulfilled past into an unknown future.

    I don’t often have time in my schedule to wander through the “trail of internet info” but glad I did today.

    Stay well,


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