Lost in a Forest on a Snowy Day
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Walking through the snowy Cleish hills early in the morning I saw a sign for “Loch Glow 1.5 miles.” I had planned to go for a 30 minute prayer meander and thought, well this should add a bit of adventure on an unknown path. As I walked with the snow crunching under my feet to the melody of the bird song the troubles and up tightness of life started to ease.
I got a part on the walk where the path split in two and I took a wild uneducated guess. Ending up lost in a forest informed me I should have chosen the other path.
As I walked through the snowy forest my feet would occasionally sink ankle deep into a muddy swamp. My trainers were soaked and feet freezing from the icy cold mud. Lost in that forest all crazy ideas start to run through your head. What if I get so lost and end up sleeping here all night? I’ve no water, food, waterproofs and my battery has hardly any charge. Then, my eyes fall upon this most reassuring and comforting sight. A footprint in the snow.
That one footprint changed everything. Someone has been here before and recently. Maybe I’m not that lost after all. Maybe there will be more footprints that will lead me to safety? Or maybe they will lead to a dead body that someone has kidnapped and hidden in the forest? It was a risk I had to take to follow those footprints not knowing where they would lead. Maybe I would find a shelter for a homeless person sitting by a fire drying their feet? At least I can dry my feet by the fire also I thought.
So I followed those footprints and the sound of the crunching snow was crisp and clear and somehow calming to the soul. There were parts of the path where the snow had cleared and I could no longer see the footprints so I had to guess on those parts. All of a sudden, the snow was my friend despite only days earlier wishing all snow had disappeared long time ago. When the snow and footprints appeared again, hope and confidence awoke in me.
Thanks to those footprints I got out that forest, and as soon as I did, 4 graceful deer skipped past on the snowy hill in front of me. That one delightful scene was an amazing gift inspiring a big smile and great pleasure. At the top of the hill I leaned heavily on my commando survival skills and intuition (aka “Google Maps”) to lead me down to the frozen, captivating Loch Glow.
Walking to Loch Glow over the frozen heather and peat bogs I noticed I was rushing and walking fast. Why am I rushing I thought? What’s so pressing I must get out of this experience so soon. I noticed I had interpreted this “lost journey” as an interruption as opposed to an amazing opportunistic experience to bask in, enjoy and delight. Hurrying out of the “lost experience” was blinding me to the stunning beauty all around and hindering my pleasure, delight and enjoyment of this moment. I remembered John Ortberg’s words: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your lives.” I tried to walk slower, to stop and embrace the morning rising sun on its blue canvas, the birdsong and the enchanting stillness and peace and calm of the frozen Loch Glow water. It wasn’t easy and I kept having to resist the pull to hurry but on those moments I did stop to embrace the beauty, it became a moment of enjoyment and pleasure in God’s creation, learning to enjoy Him.
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So those footprints led me out of the forest of my lostness, out of my fear and insecurity to the graceful deer, the still waters and the path home. Those footprints brought calm, reassurance and direction. And the great thing was I only needed to look for the next footprint all the way out. I didn’t need to worry about the whole journey, just the next step. The footprints told me someone has walked this path before. Someone who knows where they are going.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had footsteps to follow through the snowy forests of the journey of life? When lost and afraid and uncertain about the future, if only we could find the footprints of someone who knows the path that leads to the graceful skipping deer and bonny still waters?
And wouldn’t it be great if we saw our “detours” and lost moments not as the greatest inconvenience to my journey but as the greatest opportunity to find beauty that would otherwise be missed. And maybe I will come out of that lost experience, yes with icy, cold and wet feet but with a glowing, warm and still heart eased of its daily troubles, up tightness and anxiety.
1Pe 2:21 “He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”
Psa 23:1-4 A psalm of David. “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (2) He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (3) He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (4) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”