I got thinking this morning as I was trudging through freshly fallen snow to feed a couple of needy ponies. Needy because it’s only the end of December and already my pasture is covered with a couple feet of snow. Some of it already old and packed down and now a couple inches more of new fluff. It’s been a winter, to say the least. A couple early December blizzards and a few later in the month and we’ve a snowpack that rivals what we usually have by the end of March.
I was thinking about many things but one thing stuck out in my mind as I tramped through the new snow and fell off the hard-packed snow path I’d created on previous trips, into a knee deep hole–finding an old path when it’s covered up is sure difficult and annoying. I floundered my way to the corral; sometimes my feet discovering the hard packed path, sometimes stepping into a deep pocket of untouched snow. I probably looked like a disjointed drunk person on an early morning wander. It was easier going back as I could see where to avoid the pitfalls and managed to create a fairly good path again on top of the old one.
It made me think about my spiritual journey. I’ve pondered spiritual journeys and paths before and tried to make sense of teachings and lessons I’ve learned in the past, (read about that here) but this time I’ve come to think about my spiritual journey and paths differently. It just took falling off into a hole to trigger the “deep thoughts” side of my brain.
It’s been a busy fall/winter and I’ve not much time to think about deep and mysterious things—God type things. Sad I know. And daily I’ve wondered why sometimes I can be so inspired and so quick to pick up on a lesson and yet lately–even though I’m doing everything the same pretty much–it’s been boring, same-old-same-old and kind of mind-numbing. No twinklings. No fire bolts of inspiration. Some would say I need to try harder, dig deeper, get into the Word more and pray more. Pray for the desire. Get up earlier. Work at it. Probably they are right. Yet I live in nature, I see cycles. Life comes in cycles. Times of growth and times of dormancy. Both are needed.
It’s like walking on a snow packed path. When it first snows a level of difficulty in doing your chores is added. Not much, but some. If it’s a regular snow storm, the level of difficulty in doing your chores increases dramatically. When it’s a blizzard that lasts for days, it’s down-right tiring and painful!
During a three-day blizzard I was struggling over waist-deep drifts and getting stuck. So I started digging a narrow path through them, which by the time I returned was usually half filled with wind blown snow, and by the time I had to go out again it was indiscernible where I had dug before. Thankfully the blizzard ended, and we cleared paths for our trucks and feet.
The weather turned fair and chores became easier. Paths were formed, and as long as I stuck to the path it was clear sailing and easy. The snow packed down and it was easy to forget the trials of the blizzard, until the next one hit and formed drifts over my path. Then it became treacherous as I tried to rediscover my route to the corrals. The landscape had shifted and snow was deceptive.
What looked solid wasn’t.
What looked soft was hard.
It took persistence and consistency to recreate a good path. The weather cleared and life was easy again. The path was defined and solid. And then it snowed again.
I’m sure it’s going to do this all winter. My path is going to get defined and then lost–recreated and adapted.
That’s life in a nutshell.
It’s also a picture of my spiritual journey. I start out creating a path on what I know and what is familiar. Then life happens, wind blows, storms rage. Snow falls and my world is tossed upside down. Nothing looks the same. God doesn’t look the same. My foundations appear to have shifted. I flounder and struggle my way forward and suddenly I’ve created a path and I’ve found my way, my life becomes calmer and easier. Sometimes boring and maybe mind-numbing and then again I am hit with turmoil or maybe things that shake my perceptions, my beliefs; maybe stuff that was too hard to comprehend before is added; maybe things I couldn’t approach before now confronts me head on; or I can no longer believe things in the same way I have before. More “snow” has fallen over my path and the way is hard to discern and I often fall off what was firm into what is soft and it’s a struggle to redefine my path again. And sometimes I want to give up because the work is too hard and sometimes I create new paths and sometimes I make holes by shoveling it all back and starting afresh. I keep trying to find the firm foundation that keeps getting narrower and harder to stay on top of after every “snow fall”.
I find myself yelling at my son as he forges a new path through soft snow–struggling and getting stuck and laughing and forging forward.
“Stick to the path, it’s easier!”
And he calls back “But I wanna see what’s over here.”
And I shake my head and think, “What a waste of energy! If you’d just stick to the path, we’d accomplish more and you’d stop getting stuck.” But he doesn’t see it that way. He sees the fun of going off the path–of escaping confinement and definitions. However, he also comes to see the value of a path eventually and usually ends up on the hard pack, because it is after all EASIER.
And then there’s my husband, who thinks nothing like me, or lives nothing like me. And yet challenges me to think broader and outside of my boxes. When I complain about how narrow my path has become, he goes out and blasts a five-foot wide hole through the snow drift that has made walking difficult. Why didn’t I think of that? Probably because it’s much easier for him than for me.
Why do I stick to my narrow minded, narrow-path ways? Why don’t I just blast big holes through the drifts in my life? But sometimes I can’t on my own. I need others to do if for me. They have the foresight and ability, maybe a strength I don’t have, maybe resources that I haven’t yet attained to widen the path for myself.
So maybe this journey I’m on to understand more about the Creator and His Son and how to live, means that I stop worrying about what my path looks like to others, or worrying about the condition of others paths. To stop being such a religious defender of my path, of my certainties and allow for uncertainties and mysteries where I don’t have all the answers pinned down. Means that I’m ready and willing to accept help from others I may not normally have. And acknowledge that sometimes I’m going to stumble and fall, sometimes my path is going to be covered up and sometimes it’s going to be boring and sometimes, I will need to get a fresh perspective.
So that’s where I’m at, trudging through snow and packing it down.
I’m going to think on it more, because I’m at a place where much that I was certain of has shifted and I’m redefining my path again, seeking out what is firm and the true foundation, and what is not. And maybe I will be taking a bunny trail or two and allow others to open my perspective. It isn’t easy and it can be confusing and frustrating and sometimes scary, but already I’m a more excited than I have been in months to seek out and engage with God Immanuel.