Steep Paths

Cynthia L. Eppley      December 4, 2021


I have a nasty habit of falling. Not on purpose, of course. But randomly I’ll find myself flat on my back. If I’m fortunate, my garden bed will catch me somewhat gently. Generally I’m trying to go too fast and furious. I need to slow down. Justin (my son) tells me I need to encase myself in bubble wrap.


And so it came as an unfortunate turn of events when I fell on vacation. Note: this was a “Cross-Country” event. Nothing local here, oh no.

Our first day in California we met our son and his two little girls for a sunny day on the Pacific beach. We would frolic in the cold water and sand! We would build sand castles!

But the beach was a steep 200 ft down, with a winding switch back trail.

“No problem!” I said. 

“There are switch backs!” I said with relief.

And so we set off down the winding trail with caution and care, when…..


Down I went.

These things happen so quickly don’t they?

I lay on my back, looking up at the clear blue sky, and catching my breath:
Was anything broken? Could I even breathe? How did this even happen?

Bob and Nate huddled around me in concern, and the grands were worried. After much ado about (not) nothing, I was assisted to my feet.

I quickly realized I could breath fine; but I was sure I had a hairline fracture in my ribs.

Great way to start vacation!


After several days we were on our way and headed to Utah and the National Parks. I could sense something wasn’t right in my breathing. Any bump was precarious as I braced my sides.

We checked into a tiny hospital with a 4 bed Emergency Room. There, I found I had pneumonia. Many X-rays later, we were on the road again with the proper medicine.

Extra Care

Since that time, I’ve been to the Doctor many times, and have found a difference in my behavior.

Am I afraid of falling? Yes.

Do I try to be more careful? Of course.

I’m more aware of the fragility of life.

“There was a kind of fear that settled over my family the day Nick died—a fear related to a new awareness of the fragility of life. And while we are doing a bit better now than we were a few months ago, we still struggle to believe that we won’t experience other sorrows and losses, that the God who ordained one tragedy for us hasn’t ordained many more.” (See Tim Challies post:

The Doctor’s

The Gray Head Couple stood at the reception desk, clutching their papers, and their cards, and each other. 

Shakily, they asked what desk to go to?

I noted their warm hats and scarves, wrapped up to ward off winter. And her shoes were down trodden and worn on the outside heel. 

Did she not have the money for new shoes? Did she not have the energy to go the store?
The young receptionist, with a note of condescension gave directions. 

I paused at this sad interaction. It could be me. 


The tall, wide stairway looked very long indeed, and very steep.

I’m not sure if I checked for hand rails before, but I sure do now. As my friend Paula and I say: “Never leave a handrail unused.” They come in quite handy. A reassurance.

So it was significant when I came out of the Doctors office and headed to the stairs, that I first reached for the handrail. 


First, switch my purse and my papers to my right hand. I took the stairs on the left, holding the rail with my left hand. 

Very slowly I descended….and then I saw him.

A young man, head down on his phone, coming up the stairs on my side.

(Nevermind that he was on the right hand side, as he should be. Or that I was on his side coming down.)


I wondered if we would play a game of “Chicken.” Who would move first? In order to move, I had to let go of the railing. And shift to the right.

This was not my desire.  I wanted to hang on.

But when push came to shove (no pun intended here) I let go and gingerly stepped into the middle of the stairs. 


It is Us. It is Me.

We were once babes in a manger, or bassinet, or crib.

Take your pick. 

We were once young and vigorous and able to “spring back” from a fall or a stumble.

But in all reality, the turning of this life brings us to the same point:

We all have wounds that may be external; or internal.

We are all broken.

We are all aching.

Some aches are more external, but so many cannot be seen.

Love Came Down

So many Christmas carols and hymns are rich in theology and meaning. One of my favorites is:
“Love Came Down”:

Love came down at Christmas,  Love all lovely, Love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Star and angels gave the sign. 

The Advent Season

In this Advent Season, we celebrate the Babe born in a manger.

The King of the Universe, coming to a stable floor.

Psalm 126:33

He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 37:23-24

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.

Jude 24-25

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Jeremiah 23:23

“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away?

The God Who is Near

There are times when we all may feel fragile.

The fragility of life draws closer.

But even in this:

Let us remember that God Himself stooped low for us.

He remembers us in our lowly estate.

He is faithful.

And I know, whether in California or Utah, or Pennsylvania that though I might fall, I would not be cast down; the Lord upholds us with His righteous right hand.

Published by Counseling from a Christian View

Counselor, Teacher, Wife, Mother and Grandmother. It is a privilege to serve God. All my roles have taught me more about God's grace and mercy. And all of life is counseling.

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