Monday, December 31, 2012

Scars in the Snow

Few experiences compare to waking up to a fresh blanket of snow--shimmering impartially upon house, tree, field and road. At my childhood country home, we could linger as long as we wished in the warmth of the kitchen and still be the first to disturb the soft contours of the fallen flakes. When the urge to play could be denied no longer, we ventured into our front yard turned wonderland.

There is something sacred about that first step into the beautiful pristine white...

I would follow in the footsteps of my father's stride, unwilling to mar the landscape any more than necessary. My relative shortness required me to hop from hole to hole, but my two little feet fit comfortably within the canyon left by size 14 muckboots.

I envied the birds on these days, not for their flight, but for their lightness of foot. They would hop from seed to seed, leaving no trace of their presence. These delicate creatures somehow evade gravity on land as well as sky. I felt like an oaf compared to these winter birds. How I longed to play like them!
To enjoy the wonderland without ruining it.

Ah, but isn't all life like this?
           A new year is around the corner--unstained only because it has not seen life.

As soon as we touch anything with our humanity--be it a snow field, a pristine wilderness, a family, a lover--we risk making a mess of it. The snow becomes slush, the wilderness defiled, the family broken, lover hurt. As I became aware of this messiness I bring with my presence, this inevitable marring of the pristine, I have often opted to remain inside where my offending footprints do not offend. But in this hunkered down state, afraid of the weight of my steps I hear:
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
Retreating from the world for fear of the pain it may bring me, or I may bring it, is no abundance. It's barely life.

What, then, is this call to abundant life? Permission to disregard responsibility? To intentionally damage?  Certainly not! Rather, it is an invitation to be free! Free to play, to love, to hurt, to change, to fail.  For where life is abundant, so is grace.

This new year I resolve to live abundantly--not perfectly. To live abundantly--not fearfully. To dive headlong into the beauty of it all--to sled, make snowmen, have snowball fights.

And then, after hours of abundant living, to come back indoors, warm my hands and throat with a cup of hot chocolate and look outside.  There will be a scene no longer pristine, but one that has had life happen to it in a disruptive, joyful, memorable, scarring and abundant way.

How will you live abundantly this year?

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