January 4, 2018
Back in the olden days, when my body was much younger and more forgiving than it is now, I used to cross-country ski, all by myself, in the Big Horn mountains. I wouldn’t like to do that now, since getting up once I have fallen has become a bit more of a challenge. But, at the time, there was nothing I loved more than getting the boys off to school, and then heading up the mountain for a morning of swooshing along trails and meadows. Now, those who know me, know that I have never been much of an athletic person. But cross-country skiing felt much more like taking an invigorating walk, and the exercise kept me from feeling the cold.
During the week was the perfect time to go—everyone else was busy in town doing their everyday activities, and I had the trails to myself. My preference was for “flat” surface. Flat is good. But, if I was going to use the beautifully groomed trails, I would have to learn how to do a few hills as well. Going up—fine. I would herringbone up sideways (which always made me feel accomplished). Skiing down, however, was always a bit scary. I don’t like going fast, and my heart would leap into my throat, threatening to fly out of my mouth. I knew there were ways that you can slow down, but my favorite go-to for those moments of panic was to simply “sit down.” It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
I kept trying to get a bit better, and not let my fear take over. Sometimes there were hills I just couldn’t avoid skiing down. I would bend my knees and draw the tips of my skis together, and try to concentrate. The real problem became the tree that always seemed to be at the bottom of the trail, right where I needed to turn.
I would look at the tree. The tree (I swear!) would look at me. I would breathe deeply, adjust the angle of my skis and take off down the hill (real skiers would likely not have considered these to be more than a slight decline). My enemy the tree would inevitably jump right in front of me, and I would end up in a heap at its trunk.
It wasn’t obvious at the time, but eventually, I came to understand those trees as great life teachers. The more I concentrated on the tree at the bottom of the slope, the more likely it was that I was going to succeed in hitting it.
Because…are you ready for this? “You will only hit what you aim at.”
This week, we are reflecting on the Light. It is Epiphany—the day we look to the story of the Wise Men who came from the East following the star. “The Light came into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) I invite us to consider—where are we aiming? Are we engulfed in the darkness, our worries, our fears, our insecurities? Or are we ready to lean into the Light? Let’s aim for where we want to go. See you Sunday. Blessings, Pastor Nancy