For over a month now, the snow in central Minnesota has made for some beautiful and exhilarating cross-country skiing. After 6 inches of new accumulation last night, this morning on the trails was particularly gorgeous and, as it turns out, quite instructive.
Fluffy white snow piled high on tree-branches and balanced precariously atop the many oak leaves still clinging to their branches. Vibrant, near-violet, blue sky provided the perfect contrast/backdrop for awesome viewing. Sparkling sunrays glistened off snow all around me. Usually I ski without stopping. Today, I paused several times, for several minutes at a time, to soak in and soak up the scenery. Gratitude was skiing with me.
When I strayed into rumination, the beauty of my surroundings called me back to the present moment. For me, the contrast between present and not present mirrored the contrast between violet-blue sky and sparkling white snow – so vivid and clear.
The trails hadn’t been groomed yet. For about half of the 2-mile loop, I followed a single track set down by someone who’d been there before me. Then, I branched off to a more difficult section of trail no one had skied yet. Another contrast became apparent. Blazing a new trail takes a lot more effort. The exertion is exhilarating for me – and so is the ease and speed of following a track that’s already been travelled.
Reminds me of the spiritual path. I’m grateful for teachers who have paved and eased the way. And I’m grateful for the quiet moments of inspiration when I’m guided to bushwhack into new territory, blazing a trail that’s new – at least for me. The experiences are different, and both are good.
I see that contrast is all around us – in all areas of life. It opens doors. It teaches and grows us. It helps us clarify who we are and expand into who we truly are.