Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Going-Nowhere Rut

Don’t jump to the conclusion that just because I have been silent on the blog, that I have been leading a boring life. That just isn’t true! Well, some people might dispute that – I may be active, but what I have been doing some people might consider to be boring!

A couple of weeks ago I went for a really long walk. In the local Inverness Courier they usually include a route for walking or a bike route. The bike is in the shed with tyres that require pumping up. I have finally conceded that the bike and I are never going to be great friends. Sometimes the walking routes are not nearby, but this time it followed the canal path and then just outside of Clachnaharry it headed up into the forest. It was do-able, I had downed a very hearty breakfast fry up in the morning and was conscious that the scales on Monday were beckoning!

I don’t seem to be able to follow a route! I managed the first bit - the bit that followed the canal. I managed to find the path up to the forest. I managed to find the yellow path marker, and a little way along the route, the blue path marker. The instructions went on about a steep path but failed to say whether it was steep uphill or steep downhill. Having gone up hill already, I deemed it time to go downhill. I chose wrong!

I found myself in a lovely shady glade. Through the trees I could see glimpses of Inverness basking in the sunshine, and took myself off the path I was on to have a better look.

When I first moved to Inverness, the forest was a favourite haunt for myself and the friends I had made. We used to climb up to a prominent place and pray over the city. In our less “spiritual” moments we used to play hide and seek in the dark! When Joe and I first married, the flat we rented was a stone’s throw away from the forest. That was a long time ago. I was younger then and I was much fitter then. I think I have always struggled uphill, but I don’t seem to remember sweating such copious amounts of fluid in those days. So, yes, it was a bit like a trip along memory lane!

Turning back to find the path I had strayed from, I almost walked into a huge spider’s web. The web was huge, but the spider wasn’t! The web was stretched across two trees that were more than my arm’s lengths apart. I have absolutely no idea how the spider did it. Did it drop to the floor, walk across the space and then climb up the next tree dragging the slender line behind it? Did it wait for just the right kind of breeze and drift across from one tree to the other? This was one spider with a degree in architecture! I had the camera with me, with a flat battery inside, but “took” a photo, just in case. Just a few steps, and obviously with a different angle, the web was not visible.

This morning I was thinking about the spider’s web. Had I not left the path, I wouldn’t have seen it. It was worth seeing, and if I had stayed on the path, I would have missed it. The man that wrote the route told me to look out for deer, and for red squirrels – neither of which were in abundance that afternoon. He didn’t mention spiders’ webs.

Sometimes our daily path through life follows a familiar route. We have our blue markers and our yellow markers and we walk the same path day in, day out. We maybe see the same people, perhaps feel like we have the same conversations with them and deal with the same irritations usually in the same way each time. Life takes on a predictable hue. We get the rare glimpses of the deer and the red squirrel – but we stick to the familiar trail. We almost know in advance what’s coming up. We know how to deal with the familiar because we are used to it. Our lives are perhaps in a rut – not a positive rut, but a kind of going-nowhere rut.

You don’t find spectacular spider’s webs on well trodden paths! Sometimes we need to invite the Holy Spirit to take us off the familiar path, the going-nowhere rut we have found ourselves walking, teach us to let go of our usual responses and reactions to things and take a different trail.

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