Have you ever experienced that feeling when you learn something seemingly insignificant about yourself, yet it is so very profound? I found myself learning yesterday afternoon that I am in my element in the fresh powder of a new snow than the slick and used snow of a few days hence. We, the collective and invisible readership, might have guessed this. That Elisa fairs best under solitary conditions, beneath the mysterious cover of a new snow, and in the freedom to chart her own rhythm and tracks.
You see, I crested a hill.
……do you see what is coming next in the story??
I began sturdy with buoyant knees and good intentions. But as I began to pick up speed, my snow-plow-skis became criss-cross-skis, and all in an instant, I jerked my body stiff, flung my poles to the heavens and landed on that marshmallow trail, first divoting my knee a good 7 inches through the snow, then flip-flopping downward to lying on my keister, one perpendicular pole beneath me and the rest of my gear in some odd assortment of pick-up-sticks. It was crazy good. I smiled. A big one. And I muttered under my breath, ‘it has finally happened! I have finally faced my fear of tumbling down the steep side of the hill’
I suppose the details of The Epic Crash Of 2013 really do not make a difference to anybody else, but they were to me elemental in learning that what is fresh brings me the most joy. Fresh believers. Fresh babies. Fresh music. A fresh breeze, a fresh rain or a fresh perspective.
It was loud, all of that scratching and cackling climbing up behind me. Speaking to me. Letting me know that I was too slow. That three days on the trail should have made me better. That I was too out of shape to get this simple activity right. That I was too incompetent to figure out how to be a master. That I am a failure. That my desires and requests and boundaries do not matter to others. That I am too needy. Too selfish. Too forlorn in disposition. That I am not in love with Jesus, enough. That I am too poor. Too hungry. Too young. Too old. Oh! Those accusations! That snow beneath my skis just sang to me those songs of despair, laughing at me. Cackling at my innocence. Heckling at my fears. Those accusations spurred by my skating skis drove me faster and faster until I couldn’t breathe. Until I couldn’t stand. Until I found myself splattered beneath a sky of which I do not remember the color.
I found my bike. It was sitting there, behind my door, all along. Through pools of ice water, we sliced. Mud splattering my bright orange fleece. I flew! I flew past those people. All those people with only feet to tread the trail. I flew with my two wheels in balance with my fluttering heart and my unfurling tensions. We ended up at the loop-de-loop and returned in both victory and retreat. Bike’s front brake was sticky with ice. My toes were frozen with remnants of puddles. We made our way. We flew. And at the end, I was spent. All of me. How wonderful to lay oneself out so broadly so as to be utterly spent. I had flown. And somewhere between the lengthy strides of my defeated jog home, and the truth of the accusations lingering behind my quickening gait, there came a warmth embracing my soul. It was that of the spark of hope. Only in the depths of darkness does the heart realize the munificence of such a slight ember of hope.
The tiniest ember of hope can take root with even the smallest of spaces in the heart. That consuming fire burns away at the accusations and makes chaff of the lie interspersed with the truth. That all-consuming fire of hope restores to the forest of the heart, the nutrients of the everlasting truth, that Jesus saves. And he saves well, my friends.