When Life Feels Dark and Hopeless, Search for Mushrooms

Sunday, September 25, 2022
It's been a challenging week on the home front, nothing deadly or tragic, just one of those weeks that  tested our endurance (and patience) and proved Murphy's Law is real.  Yesterday we escaped the chaos of the week by doing what we do to renew our sanity and took a drive to Grafton Lakes State Park. 

 From our previous trips, I know that at this time, after summer and at the brink of fall, the woods along the road of the winter entrance are dotted with colorful mushrooms.  As a passenger, it's fun to use my 20/15 eagle eyes to comb the sides of the road trying to spot these tiny specimens. Often they are only visible thanks to a tiny ray of sunlight shining like a spotlight on a celebrity on a dark stage.  Some of them appear to emerge from a log of a dead tree, reaching out horizontally, then rising up towards the sky, others rising out of decaying vegetation and dirt.

 I found and captured several in my camera lens from the passenger seat, though not as diverse a collection as other years.   I'm always amazed at the variety, texture, color and daintiness of these little fungi.

This morning as I was uploading my photos, marveling at these tiny jewels of nature, the detective work required in finding them from yards away in our slow moving vehicle, focusing from such a distance in challenging lighting conditions, I was reminded that spotting mushrooms in the forest is a little like discerning our blessings at moments of difficulty.

Have you ever heard the quote, "Don't let a bad day make you think you have a bad life"?  Such a good reminder, right?  Aren't there some days that are so challenging, so discouraging that for a moment we forget that our troubles are often temporary and most don't have a long-term effect.  In the moment, though, it feels like whatever is testing us is unfixable, maybe even insurmountable, but thankfully things often turn out ok.  

Searching for mushrooms is a little like searching for a ray of hope in the dark times.  Finding these little gems hiding in the woods, barely visible but for a tiny bit of sunlight, reminds me that in our darkest hours, it's important to focus not on the dark, but to search for the light - the light of our blessings. It's during the trials and tribulations of life that our blessings are hardest to see.  Despite the series of challenges that I was faced with last week, when I took a moment to really assess life as a whole, I have a lot to be thankful for.   Aside from the overwhelming situations that presented themselves, situations that were frustrating, challenging and at times depressing, my life is filled with beautiful gems, just like the mushrooms in the woods. I need to remind myself sometimes of those blessings, especially in difficult times, and move on and not get stuck in the darkness of one day or five.

This week, if life gets dark or difficult, remember these mushrooms.  They don't grow out in the open, in the bright warm sun easily visible where things are cheery and hopeful.  They grown on dead and decaying wood often at the base of trees, and in the dark and damp earth. They grow in spite of the surrounding conditions.  We need to be thankful, despite our challenges.  Sometimes our blessings don't shout to be seen, they whisper from the darkness.  Listen and look closely.  Some days we may have to search harder to be reminded of them but they're always there. Rejoice in your blessings and as I always say, focus on the light - even if it's just a tiny ray of sun shining in the darkness.

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