There is a very old Japanese legend about a sacred mountain where all old people would journey to when they were near their life’s end. They would wait on the mountain top until sunrise, and then the gods would take them to heaven.
One day, an elderly mother and son set out to their journey to the mountain. She was very old and frail, so the son decided to carry her up the mountain on his back to leave her to wait for the gods. They walked all day and at sunset they arrived at the foot of the mountain. They rested for a little while and then continued on up the mountain, climbing for several hours.
While the son walked up the mountain with his old mother on his back, he noticed that she kept breaking twigs and branches off trees and bushes every minute or so, and she would throw them on the path behind them.
He asked his mother what she was doing and she replied, ‘You are a wonderful son. You have carried me far on your back to the sacred mountain and you must be very tired. I am breaking off branches to leave a trail, so that when you come back down the mountain you will know the path and not get lost. I am leaving little signs for you to return home safely.’
The son was very touched and shed a tear for his mother. Soon they reached the top of the mountain. He gently rested his mother down, bowed to her three times and bid her farewell, wishing her peace and happiness in the heavens, and leaving her to greet the gods at sunrise, then made his way back down the mountain following the trail of twigs and branches that his mother had dropped on the way up the mountain.
So it is with all mothers and also fathers, who show us the way through life. They leave us little clues to find our way home safely. They guide us through the mountains of life.
And eventually they leave us, but not without small signs to help us walk a better path.