Freezing temperatures, black ice, dark days, cabin fever. What’s not to love about winter?
Plenty, according to some people. If you’re one of those folks (and even if you’re not), maybe you’d like to brighten your winter up with a little adventure.
I was feeling the urge when I signed up for ski lessons, where one of the first things we learned was a method of stopping called a snowplow, when you point your feet inward till your ski tips touch and form a wedge shape. “Cool,” I thought. “Sounds like an easy way to control my speed. I’ll be shushing in no time.
Of course, being a nonathlete, I took quite a few spills at first, but after a few hours, I was snowplowing my way down the bunny slopes without breaking anything. When I’d had enough for the day, I made my way over to a wide expanse of snow, where all the trails converged and led to the lodge. It was pretty high up, but I figured I could snowplow my way down and be okay.
I do not recall anyone telling me that you cannot, you must not, try to snowplow down a steep hill. But I didn’t know any better, so down I went. At first it was okay, but as I picked up speed, I could see that this technique was going to be ineffective at best, and lethal at worst, because at the bottom of the hill were five hundred people, or so it seemed, milling around, waiting in lift lines, partying down.
Little did they know just how down that party was about to be.
I tried snowplowing harder, but my legs just kept spreading farther and farther apart, until I couldn’t even fall over. I could only keep going, faster and faster.
I tried yelling something like, “Comin’ atcha!” or “Geronimo!” or “Fire!”–although it’s hard to remember exactly what I screamed because none of my warnings succeeded in parting the multitude. I was terrified, thinking that this must be what it feels like to run into an oncoming train.
And then I hit them, full force, my already-spread-apart legs spreading even farther, like the wishbone out of a Thanksgiving turkey.
My body parts became their body parts in a painful, chaotic tangle of humans and skis.
I also heard a few choice words aimed at describing my athletic ability and aptitude. And maybe my ancestry.
Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt. But let me tell you, that even when you’re trying to make winter an adventure, it ain’t always pretty.
And so it goes with the winter of your soul.
You may be going through a season of pain and hardship and loss right now.
Maybe someone you love has died, or your relationship with someone important is damaged. You might have lost your job, or an unfulfilled dream is making you sad. Maybe you thought you’d be married by now or have children by now. Maybe illness or physical pain is sending your spirit spiraling down, and you feel powerless to stop it.
You name it. There are so many ways winter can blow into our lives.
Looking at the snow outside my window, thinking about you, especially if your times are tough, I’d like to share this piece of hope from author Nicole Johnson:
Whether the work of winter is happening under 8 inches of frost or 8 feet of snow, it is still happening. This is very important, hidden work. The kind of work that forces the roots of the trees to go deeper and runs “stress tests” on the life force of everything underground. The kind of work required for the spring to arrive. Neither a warm day nor buckets of snow can stop this work until it’s finished…
And then there is the winter in our own lives…seasons of grief or loss, times of quiet unknowing, silence between friends, times most of us wish to avoid altogether. In stillness and quiet…this work happens at the very time we are tempted to believe nothing is happening. But new connections in our brains are being formed and work is being done to repair the havoc created by stress or anguish—and this important work is invisible to us.
When this winter work is finished, in cooperation with the rising temperature, it finally begins to show. Pushing its way up through the roots of our lives to show the ground above, or perhaps our own doubting hearts…Now do you see what’s been happening? Behold the magnificent proof of the work that was being done in quiet and stillness, in the time when you thought it was just cold.
What is it about understanding this, even partially, that somehow brings more ability to bear it? And not only bear it, but trust it. Not to trust in any work I’ve done, but in the work God does in me while the winter keeps me still enough to make it possible.
Carry on, my friend, if life is hard right now, and know that being still in the winter of your soul can turn into your greatest adventure yet…
If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…