Today is a classic “Daily Double” version of my blog. There are two completely different things I’m thankful for today. Leaving one of the two out feels wrong, so it’s two for the price of one!

First off, today 75% of the family had the day off from school and work so I decided to follow suit. Instead of working and school we headed off to Devil’s Lake State Park for an afternoon of hiking.

The weather cooperated perfectly, stopping the rain only minutes before we wanted to hike. By the time we wrapped up it was a beautifully sunny blue sky. rain only minutes before we wanted to hike. By the time we wrapped up it was a beautifully sunny blue sky. Almost six miles of peaceful hiking around the lake, up and down the hills and rocks. There were specular vistas of the changing leaves in the valleys below. The leaves in a couple of spots were so vibrantly yellow that it seemed surreal. All in all it was another awesome time as a family in the outdoors.

While the hike was great what I am most thankful for is the little purple sticker on our windshield. Our WI State Parks pass has been our golden ticket to so many beautiful experiences this year. We’ve gotten more use out of that little sticker than we have in possibly all of the past twenty years. That purple sticker has led to the creation of so many outdoor experiences and memories as a family and I am so grateful for all of the parks it opened up to us. I look forward to exploring more and more of WI State Parks over the upcoming months and years.

Last night before I went to bed I read an inspiring story that caused me to pause and re-read it several times before turning of the light. When I woke up this morning it still was running through my head. I was so inspired by it I shared it with Becky. All day long it’s been floating in the back of my thoughts and it’s helped me view the world through a slightly better lens.

A week or so ago I shared a different story and copied and pasted it from offline. This time I’ll do my best to share it in my own words. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a soldier walking a path. On the path he encountered a well know wise person, quite possibly the most wise of any who lived at the time.

“Is there really a paradise and a hell?” he asked the wise man.

“What do you do for a living?” asked the wise man in response.

“I am a soldier for the king.”

“You are a soldier? No, you can’t be. You look far too weak. You have the face of a dirty peasant,” said the wise man.

The warrior became so angry he put his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“So you have a sword. You look too weak to use it. It appears to be so dull it could not even cut off my head,” the wise man said.

Hearing enough the warrior’s blood was boiling with rage. He pulled the sword from the sheath and moved to attack the wise man.

The wise man looked at him and said, “Here open the gates of Hell!”

The soldier paused and quickly understood the meaning of the wise man’s comment. He sheathed his sword, kneeled before the wise man, and apologized for his actions.

“Here open the gates of paradise!” said the wise man.

My interpretation of “The Gates of Paradise”

There are so many levels to this story that caught my attention. The difference between anger and humility. The difference between emotional reaction and logical thought. Over the past several months how often have I opened the gates of hell when the gates I should have opened were the gates of paradise? Needless to say, this story will stick with me through the remainder of my life.


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