An essential word in describing movement from one place to another is the word path. A path may be described as a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals. A narrow walk or way: a path through a garden; a bicycle path. A route, course, or track along which something moves: the path of a hurricane. One interesting thing about a path is that people have travelled it before, probably many times before. A path is possibly, but not necessarily always the best, most direct route from one place to another.
There is an implied safety concerning a path. Because it is well-defined and has been travelled by others, we might tend to feel some level of safety and security in following the path. A number of hospitals use a system of paths to guide people from the main entrance to a desired destination. Many hospitals have been added to many times, making directions difficult to give and more difficult to follow. In addition, many people coming to a hospital may be experiencing stress due to the medical condition of themselves or the person they are coming to see. These hospitals may have a number of paths in different colors painted on the floor beginning at or near the entrance.
At the reception desk, a visitor may be told to follow the red path to the emergency room, the blue path to the intensive care unit, the white path to X-Ray or whatever path leads to the desired destination. This can guide someone through a very complicated series of turns, doors etc. they also give a person the single task of following one particular color both to reach a given destination and to return to the entrance when finished.
I have spent a lot of time in many hospitals over the years and gotten lost enough times to appreciate a path painted on the floor to appreciate them when they exist. Similarly, one of the largest cemeteries in the country is in Cincinnati, OH. They use a series of paths of various colors painted on the roads within the cemetery to guide people to the appropriate section. I have ridden with funeral directors who relied on the paths to guide them to the proper section of the cemetery. I can’t imagine how much comfort it must be to a family member looking for a particular grave to have those paths to guide them.
Not every path offers even an implied guarantee of safe passage. An iconic movie path-The Yellow Brick Road, The path offers only the hope of reaching The Emerald City. It contains several sources of danger for the people following it.
We all follow paths in various areas of our lives. Few of us strike out on totally new direction in every area of our lives all the time. As very young children, we tend to follow the path set for us by the influential people in our live. At certain points we follow the path of a teacher, mentor or someone else we admire and trust. Even when we go in new directions, we are often guided by paths first travelled by others.
These paths are important, especially when we get off them for a moment. It is important to have a path travelled by people we trust to find our way back. We are only lost when we can’t get back to the that we can trust to lead us to our destination.
As we move forward it is helpful to periodically check where we are relates the path. Especially in a crisis, it is easy to lose sight of the path that will get us to our destination. It is crucial to at least keep in sight people who are on the correct path. Better still if we remain on the correct path and can help guide others. May our journey and the choice of our path bring us to the destination we want to reach. The path is important.