Monday, January 01, 2018

Following the path into the New Year

In the late afternoon last Saturday, I decided to go for a walk. Supper plans were under control; Richard and Jonathan had gone for a drive; Allison was doing her own thing at home. I put on my lined pants, doubled up on mittens, and headed out.

We had had about 40cm of snow during the week before and including Christmas, so the snowbanks were piled high. But the sidewalk plows had been out, so most of the major streets seemed to have walkable sidewalks.

It was a nice time of day to walk. Although it was cloudy, darkness hadn't fallen yet, so I didn't feel unsafe; but it was dim enough that the Christmas lights outside and inside various houses were bright and sparkling against the snowy backdrop. I could even see through some windows and observe what people were doing.

As I turned off a main street and started up a side one, I had a strange visual sensation. The flat late-afternoon light made the path up ahead of me look solid white. Because the sun wasn't shining and the streetlights hadn't come on yet, there were no shadows to distinguish plowed banks from the flat path -- it was just a white expanse. I couldn't tell whether the sidewalk was plowed or completely filled with snow. 

There was only one way to find out: keep walking. And a few steps along, I saw the plow had been through. The banks on either side took shape as I got closer to them, and the tread marks from the plow became distinct. What had looked shapeless and indistinct from a distance was in fact clearly marked and plain -- a fact I'd have missed if I'd relied on my eyes alone and assumed, "This sidewalk isn't plowed yet."

Maybe you're not sure about the path you need to walk in 2018. It may look as if no one's gone that way before, and you wonder if you'll be on your own. There may even seem to be no path at all -- just an indistinct expanse without markers or signposts.

But if you just set out and take those first steps, you may find that -- as the Quakers say -- "way will open" in front of you. 

You may discover that a path, whether fresh or well-marked, lies ahead of your feet -- just waiting for you to follow it to whatever adventures the New Year holds.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

image: pixabay


  1. The unsure path seems to be one I end up taking more often than I'd like. I'm often taking steps and end up with thoughts much like whither then, I cannot say. But God makes ways in and out, along and around, through and under and over. He must, because I'm not in the same place I was before taking those paths.

    1. That's a great way to put it, Tim. It would be nice to say there's some formula for figuring things all out in advance. But in my experience it's just those daily steps of faith, trusting that God is with us and taking us somewhere even if we don't know the way.

  2. This is beautiful! I especially enjoyed reading it from snowless Texas. Found you on FMF. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Lauren. We had 84 mm of rain last Thurs & Friday so the snow was nearly gone - then we had another 15cm of snow overnight into Saturday! What a roller coaster of weather! Enjoy your warm temps in Texas and thanks for reading and commenting.


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