Diverging Paths: Part 3

I come upon two paths at the bottom of the hill. A well-trodden path with a strong, solid footing converges with a dangerous trench that has been carved out from the summer storms and water runoff. The trench is now mostly dry with only hints of the surge of water that has edged away the defining boundary between safe and dangerous.

I am struck by the proximity between these two very different paths -- how easy it would be to wander off the path and slip into the trench. The edge of the path has been eroding -- it is jagged, weakened -- if you were to walk to close your foot would likely slip and you would find that you have fallen into the trench.

In some ways following the unpredictable, potentially dangerous path is inviting and seems adventurous-- to traverse the worn, ragged dry creek bed -- but I sense the danger and it feels ominous. This two paths are really diverging paths.

di-verge (verb)

1. to move, lie, or extend in different directions from a common point; branch off.
2. to differ in opinion, charater, form, etc; deviate.
3. to turn aside or deviate, as from a path, pratice, or plan.

I know I must keep to the well-trodden path.

1 My child,never forget the things I have taught you.
Store my commands in your heart.
2 If you do this, you will live many years,
and your life will be satisfying.
3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4 Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:1-6

The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way...

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.

Just in case you are wondering how to do this... today for me, it is simply remembering to take one step at a time!

Paths with Purpose: Part 2

Further down the path I begin to ascend walking upon exposed roots. These roots provide almost perfectly spaced stairs allowing my feet to find secure footing as I inch my way up the hill. This is new territory and I am unsure what I may find at the summit. This is definitely different terrain.

I've almost reached the end of this path, but notice a yellow item off to the left. My eyes are drawn to this object. This misplaced item. My curiousity gets the best of me and I make my way off the path to explore. As I reach down to move the leaves and debris I discover it is a girl's lacrosse ball. Why is it here? How did it get here?

I continue up the path still wondering about this lost ball. As I come to the opening at the top of the hill, peeking out from the cover of the trees and path, I realized this ball is evidence of a missed goal attempt. Just to the left of the opening and up a few more yards is a girl's lacrosse field.

How odd? I have just finished a season of being an assistant coach for our high school girl's lacrosse team. For any of you who have either played, watched or coached a sport -- it seems all those missed shots, missed goals, missed tackles, all speak to the deficit of a player or team. Those times a team doesn't score, when a team can't defend well... those mishaps and mistakes lead to disappointment that we would rather forget.

Life has a way of creating the path that lies before us. I am learning that I don't control the elevation changes of the path I must follow or the kind of footing I will have to endure. I am also learning that life, just like lacrosse and any other sport is filled with mishaps, mistakes, and disappointments.

But today, I am especially struck by the idea that what is required of me (and us) is to LIVE the life we have and to PLAY the game that we are in to the best of our ability. To offer all of ourselves to what we encounter and experience. AND to trust that those missed shots, difficult situations and disappointments will be used in someway down the path.

This missed shot likely happened 3 - 6 months before my walk. This ball had been lost and likely forgotton by the team, probably even replaced by now. It had been passed by many who had walked this same trail. But this day, for this moment... in some way for me was a reminder that nothing is lost or forgotten. That everything in our journey has purpose and value, somewhere, somehow, for someone.