Monday, January 16, 2012

Footprints in the Snow

 I love the wonder of new fallen snow!  As a child I used to love being outside while it was still snowing.  It was always amazing to me how snow falling, which didn’t make a sound, muted out so much of the other sounds around us.  I loved listening to the stillness.  In the profound “quiet” and beauty, I felt close to God.  I remember the sense of adventure I felt as I would venture into deep snow to make snow angels or snow forts.  If I didn’t enjoy playing in it so much, I would have been frustrated that the perfection of the beauty of freshly fallen snow had been destroyed.  Yes, it is an inborn trait, I am a perfectionist.  I have tried most of my life to ditch this quality, as it can be the source of much frustration and guilt, but I do not excuse enjoying the perfection of God’s creations. 
Today we got some of the winter snow that “should have” fallen while the kids were on Christmas break.  Since they did not have school because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, most of them were able to go out and play in the snow.   As I began answering their requests to play outside while it was still snowing, I was dumbfounded that my responses were void of any of the wonder and excitement of the moment.  My first response was, “Not until it stops snowing.  It is too cold while it is still snowing.”   Was that my overprotective side talking or was I just not looking forward to the practical side of dealing with frozen toes, wet winter clothing scattered all over the floor afterwards, and their attention span being too short? Finally I relented.
In the aftermath of their play I looked at the multiple footprints all over the snow.  There is a beauty I have come to appreciate in looking at the footprints of animals and children in the snow.  They tell a type of story.  In all the randomness of the multiple sets of prints, there is a pattern and beauty all its own.  Some of the prints are easily explained, like the paths that lead to and from the multiple doors of the house, while others I am left to speculate what they were doing and why they forged that new path.  Another look within myself leads me to contemplate what I should learn from these simple life observations.
Heavenly Father shows me a destination to reach for and the guidelines of the path that will lead me there.  Sometimes my path is discernible, like a dirt trail on a mountain path.  More often than not, He asks me to forge a path on newly fallen snow.  As a trusting child, I used to step forward without much hesitation.  I think I often saw His footprints in the snow and easily followed where they would go.  Although my faith has matured with age, I hesitate more than I used to.  I believe that often He is telling me that I must figure out the path with the instructions He has previously left for me.  He has blessed me with breathtaking scenery and added stillness so that I may more easily hear His voice above the crazy chaos of life.  How often do I take the time to listen and seek out that voice above all else?   How often do I take the time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of what He has created as a reminder of His love for me?  As a mother of nine children it is pretty easy for me to justify the fact that I do not have time to slow down.  There is always more to do.  However, He has provided these beautiful things so that in the “busy-ness “ of life, we can have a sense of adventure or a sense of peace amidst the adventure if that is what is needed. 
One advantage about  forging a snowy path is the fact that when you look back, you can easily see where you started or how far you’ve gone, until you can’t see the beginning anymore.  Therein lies the beauty of the random footprints on the snow.  The story belongs to those who created the prints.  They beckon to me that their story is as beautiful as the untouched snow.  It doesn’t look like a postcard photo anymore, but it is a living photo of my reality.  The question is, “Do I accept and embrace that reality or do I object in any manner my anticipated outcome of the choices before me?”  Do I venture out in the storms of life or do I hide and say that it is too cold for me,  I would rather wait until it stops snowing?  Do I view my life as an adventure into deep snow with the opportunity to make snow angels and forts, or do I treat the snow as yet another drudgery to endure?  Why do I yearn for snow at Christmas?  Do I recognize when I am going in circles without a purpose and when He is beckoning me to take time to create circles so that I may take a closer look at what is around me? 
I do not doubt that Heavenly Father has specific things for me to accomplish.  They are different than yours, but almost always they are affected by the paths of others.  Our responsibilities are mostly individualized, but our experiences are mostly interconnected with the paths of others.  May I take the time to greet the freshly fallen snow in my life with the joy and wonder that it is so deserving of and share that with others.

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