I walked the dog late Wednesday afternoon as the sun dipped low and the shadows grew long against the pristine snow. Josie and I traveled our usual route, out the neighborhood, along the edge of the golf course, down the winding path beside the frozen creek. We’d gotten snow that morning, the second storm this week, so the plows were still out scraping the roads. Snow blowers whirred and whined in the distance.
It was cold. Really cold. The wind blew hard from the north, biting my cheeks and watering my eyes. The path wasn’t plowed. The drifts were powdery, but deep enough that the snow spilled over the tops of my boots and sifted down, settling into a chilled dampness under my heels and toes.
You’d think I would have been miserable out there, but I wasn’t. My heart soared with an inexplicable joy, reveling in the expansive blue sky, the skeletal tree branches, the snow unsullied and pure. I sang out loud the single line I remembered from the hymn we’d sung a few weeks ago in church: “Taste and see…taste and see…the goodness of the Lord.” Weighed down by my clunky boots and winter coat, my fleece hat, bulky mittens and scarf, I walked heavily, but my spirit was light.
Josie and I stood for a bit at the edge of the snowbank, the wind at our backs, the sun on our faces, and watched a woman across the field as she skied down a small hill, and then climbed back to the top. She repeated that cycle a dozen times in the few minutes I stood there, never falling, but also never straying from the same route. She was methodical, yet I also sensed a determination there, just under the surface of her repetitive movements. She was bent on mastering that small hill and those awkward skis, no matter how much effort it took.
As I stood in the snow and watched the woman on the skis, I thought about how together her walk and mine that day were the perfect metaphor for life. Some days our spirits soar for no reason, and nothing — not bulky coats, not worries, not uncertainty, not wet socks — can dampen our joy. And other days? Well, those are the ones built on sheer determination — a methodical, deliberate climbing.
I prefer the former, of course. But I suspect I wouldn’t appreciate these moments of lightness and joy nearly as much, had I not also walked up and down, up and down, methodically and deliberately. These days I’m learning that’s kind of the way life is. Some days are glory, some days are grit, and I can be grateful for both.