If you've ever hiked in a "white out" you know that all reference points vanish, consumed by fog, leaving you with no reference point other than the boot path in the snow right in front of you. View? Gone. Perspective, sense of direction, proximity to the goal, all vanish. There's nothing other than taking the next step.
This was the case for a little group of us on Saturday afternoon near the Mt. Baker ski area, as early winter descended on us all, with fog, snow, 25 degrees, and 30 mile per hour gusts of winds. When white out conditions prevail, all the normal reasons for 'getting out' are gone. There's no view, no warmth, no perspective of proximity to the goal or progress. And yet, out we were, taking one step at a time, until suddenly, what we thought was a stand of small trees turned out to be the bathrooms at Artist Point, which was our destination for the afternoon.
I loved this hike because I've been in the midst of a busy season in life, a season where my days are often reduced to simply taking next steps. And yet, the next thing, followed by the next thing, and then the thing after that, and suddenly you're there! Of course, there is the little necessity of stopping along the way to make certain that the set of next steps are headed in the right direction; the route finding piece of the puzzle is critically important. It occurred in short stops along the way, checking the map and the turns we were making, along with the known reference points, to make certain we were on the right path. This route finding is equally important in real life; little time outs to check the map and make certain that we're heading the right direction. It feels more productive to keep going, but the stopping to check the route has value, all the more so when the big picture is hidden, when the beautiful and joyful elements that normally motivate us are missing. That's when, more than ever, we need to know that we're on the right path.
It's felt lately very much like this: take the next step... and then the next step... and then the next step. This too is a season, just as the clear days when the view, the sense of progress, the vitality and beauty of it all is enough to keep us going. We don't choose the weather - rather we learn to navigate wisely. This is our life.