By Mark Briggs
A

t the dead-end of a rutted and potholed gravel road, I behold the resilient but worn home of my upbringing. The sagging roof, shifting boards, and dormant flowers echo the passage of time, marking the waypoints of my life's journey. Raised in the hot and humid heart of rural Louisiana, my path has been forged by the intertwining forces of nature, faith, art, and an unwavering determination to impact the world. Along this winding road, four pivotal lessons have illuminated my way, directed my steps, and fueled my fervor.

Nature became my sanctuary in the Louisiana countryside, revealing its beauty in stoic moss-draped trees and tranquil bayous. The symphony of wind through leaves and the song of chirping crickets became soulful melodies, offering solace that nothing else could. This communion with nature taught me the sanctity of preserving our environment and cherishing the gifts bestowed upon us. In embracing nature’s vastness, I discovered peace that resonated deep within.

 

Faith has been my cornerstone as a pastor and a man of adventure. The teachings of the Bible have bestowed unwavering guidance and a moral compass, aiding me in navigating life’s tumultuous waters. One of the writers of New Testament scripture said, “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

 

Faith propels me forward, reassuring me that even at life’s apparent dead-ends, a divine plan unfolds, urging me to persevere.

 

Art became my mode of expression. Amidst the serene landscapes of Louisiana, between the cypress swamps and the piney hills, I discovered the power of artistic expression. To some, a weather-beaten piece of wood would stoke a fire. To me, it seemed that God had formed this unique gnarled shape just for my pleasure. I learned to encapsulate life’s moments and emotions through painting, music, and creative outlets. In its varied forms, art transcends words, reaching the depths of the soul and leaving an indelible mark.

 

Adversity became a catalyst for growth. Despite the challenge of growing up with limited means and facing what would now be labeled a learning disability, I honed resilience. Overcoming adversity taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, and extending compassion to those in need. Through these trials, I learned the profound impact of offering support and empathy to others.

 

Reflecting on this dead-end stirs memories of the diverse paths that led me here. Lessons learned—embracing nature, the power of faith, art as expression, and resilience in adversity—stand tall as the guiding pillars of my journey.

 

With every step, I realize there are no true dead-ends; instead, they offer moments to pause, reflect, and chart new courses. Each experience enriches my perspective, reminding me that in life’s apparent cul-de-sacs, there’s always a path, if not to continue forward, then to rest or to simply turn around.

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