I glanced out the window of the snug and saw a struggle: boy vs snow. I noticed a path that must have started at the boy’s house a few doors away from us, and now the snowball had grown to heavy and unwieldy proportions. I have no idea what the boy’s goal or intention was, but now he faced a problem-how to roll the ball to wherever it was he wanted it to be.
He patted the snow around the big ball. He paused and looked around, hoping, I imagine, to find some of his buddies who might help. He rested, sometimes on the ball itself, but then he was right at it again, determined, it seemed, to accomplish his goal, whatever that was.
Soon he had some success and got the ball rolling, but then he was done, just plain done. At least for the moment.
Had he met his goal? Was the snowball where he wanted it to be? Did he decide to take a time-out and perhaps return the next day when he felt fresher and had a different perspective on the project? Had he changed his mind and decided whatever he had accomplished was enough? How did he feel about his efforts? Had he learned anything in the process?
Will he someday in the future remember the Sunday afternoon in February when he had a plan to roll a snowball from one end of the block to the other or to build a snowman in his friend’s front yard. Or maybe he didn’t have a plan at all. He just started rolling the ball one inch at a time. What story will he tell himself about that effort?
This simple drama outside our house seems like a window into discernment. Sometimes we start something with only a vague plan or maybe we know the outcomes we want, but we have no idea how hard getting to the finish line will be. Or maybe the goal changes as we go along, or maybe we discover we have gained valuable lessons or awareness along the way and it is time to move onto something else. Maybe the situation has changed, and it is time to evaluate the initial goal.
My thoughts return to the boy.
Maybe the boy’s inner voice whispered, “Enough, boy. I have other plans for you.”
Maybe the boy’s energy needs to be directed in other ways.
Currently, I have a big, heavy snowball in my front yard, a major project, and I don’t know what steps to take next. This is discernment time, and I am doing my best to find the balance between pushing and resting. Between looking at options and stepping away to gain perspective. Between consulting with others and listening deeply to myself and the voice of Spirit.
Tomorrow, March 2, is Ash Wednesday. The 40 days of Lent are a time to open to the yearnings God has for me, as well as the ways I yearn for God. I may or may not discern an answer to my current question by the time we sing “Alleluia!” on Easter Sunday, but I know the willingness, the attentiveness I give to the movement of God in my life will somehow grow me closer to the person I was created to be.
An Invitation: Is there something in your life now that calls you into discernment? I would love to know.
NOTE: Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment, The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way by Nancy L. Bieber (2010) is an excellent resource for the discernment process.