This week, I had the grace of attending a funeral for the father of a good friend. I almost hesitate to use the word "grace" in conjunction with the word "funeral" -- but I think most of you might concur with me that so often, a funeral can be a healing experience that draws us closer to Christ and to our loved ones.

The funeral in question was not Catholic. In fact, it took place in one of this dad's favorite places: the Rodeo Hall. He was a cowboy through and through, a parade marshall in our annual Rodeo event and the proud owner of beautiful horses. More than one mourner came to his funeral garbed in rodeo attire and a tribute slide show demonstrated the obvious joy he felt being out in nature astride his favorite mount.

The words of the Pastor who led us in prayer at the start of his ceremony truly touched my heart. Using Psalm 23 as his inspiration, he urged us never to "cut our own trail", but rather to walk along the trail God has destined for each of us, the trail that ultimately leads us home to him.

Sometimes our trails feel happy, content, smooth and level. A bright sunshine lights our way and the going is smooth, even pleasant.

Other times, the trail is "uphill both ways" -- the burdens feel too heavy, the distance too far. The temptation to turn from him, to set off along any other path but his, can be so very tempting. God's way is challenging and may demand of us that we venture off the way most take, especially in today's popular culture. We feel lonely, overwhelmed, and off track. Those are the moments along the trail to remember that we are never alone -- that God loves us so very much that he would send his only son to take our hand, to lift our loads, to carry us home to him if only we will say the word.

As his loved ones said goodbye to their beloved, I sent my own private prayer for him and his path to heaven. We may not know the twists and turns our trails will take, but we can be assured of our destination if only we believe.

The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
Psalm 23:1-4 

Copyright 2012 Lisa M. Hendey