Losing Light and Gaining Perspective

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

Hebrews 12:1

We ventured out into dusk. The sun was slipping behind the horizon and the moon was yet to make its appearance in the night sky. We had just enjoyed a warm meal together and now it fuelled our efforts to snowshoe on the trail of snow and ice. Our friend’s cottage faded into the distance as we skimmed over the Muskoka landscape before us.

It would be a quick trek on the trail tonight. We were losing light fast, but the pinks and oranges of the sky had beckoned us through the big bay window in the living room. And we raced to answer.

Now we raced against the darkness. Each of us trekking at our own pace through the now-murky night. The youngest of us needed extra help to gear up and even then we didn’t know how long the broken gear would hold. Yet still he wanted to venture out with us. Another had raced ahead, leaving poles and warm gear behind, anxious to get on the trail and grab all he could from the moments of light we had left. The biggest and tallest and strongest of us equipped all the others before starting on his race. His steps always sure and steady, his pace only slowing to help others, he gave us confidence to see the race to the finish. Then were was me, always bringing up the rear, making sure everyone else was running the race well ahead of me, never wanting to leave anyone behind, loving the view of watching others as they ran.

Through the darkening sky we raced against the blackness.  The beautiful colours that only moments before had beckoned us out of the comfortable cottage, now gone from our view.

The youngest lost a snowshoe long ago, now carrying it in his arms along with his two poles, excited by the humorous story he had to share with friends back home. This smallest of runners loves to find his own pace and enjoy the moments of his race.  He grabs what he can from his surroundings, finds the beauty in what he sees, and invites others to enjoy the treasures of life with him.  He shows me a whole new world if only I stop to listen and watch with him.  The other was far ahead, still in sight, stopping now and then to point out a new discovery or wait for those of us who lagged behind. It has always been hard to keep up with this runner. He is fast, he is fearless and he is full of life. I love him this way.  Once in a while I find the courage to run side by side with him in his race.  The biggest and tallest and strongest was in front of me now, turning back at times to give me a smile or wait for me to catch up to the team.  As long as I know this runner is still in the race, this gives me energy and patience and perseverance like nothing I’ve ever known as I put one foot in front of the other on the trail ahead.  And then there’s me, taking it all in, enjoying the view from the back, knowing that one day, soon enough, the youngest runners will out-pace me by far.

We come to a small fork in the trail. The cottage is back in sight and the trail provides two paths to the front door. I notice that the youngest members of the team turn off one way, and the oldest members turn off the other. So it should be. We each have our own races to run, our own paths to take, all leading to the same place eventually.

No matter that the trek was quick that day, or that we raced against darkness, or that we each raced is such different ways – what mattered to me most was that we set out in the first place, that we answered the call to enjoy the beauty of the trail before us, that we finished strong, and that we gathered together again when the race was done.

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