Snapshots of Walking in Winter in Illinois + Musings From My Wanderings
Several years ago I wrote the following Richard Rohr quote on an index card and hung it up in the kitchen of the apartment we were renting.
In order to live your soul into the world, you must continually loosen your beliefs about who you are.
I’ve moved this little card to three more places since writing it.
I keep hanging it up,
and its truth keeps revealing itself to me.
Here’s an example:
Something I’ve believed about myself for a long time is this:
I’m not a winter person.
Other versions of this belief include:
I like summer.
I like warm weather.
I like being hot.
As soon as I learned we were moving to Illinois,
I began to try to loosen this belief.
Just a little bit.
Instead of dreading winter,
could I find a way to embrace it?
Could I let it in?
We had our first snowfall here early in the season.
The autumn colors were bright and beautiful,
and then all of a sudden,
they were covered in snow.
It was a strange muddle of the seasons.
And it was kind of beautiful.
Then winter arrived in earnest when I returned from Spain.
I have kept this coat that could double as a sleeping bag handy.
Plus snow boots.
I don’t get out in the winter weather every day.
But when I do,
I am surprised by how much I like walking in it.
Of course it’s more fun with friends.
My sister-in-law is not afraid of winter, but she and I definitely share a love of warm weather.
In January, the snow turned to ice.
When it gets super cold around here, the top layer of the snow freezes into this shell of ice.
So Taido bought these grips that are like snow chains for your boots.
We have had more fun with these than I thought was possible.
They make me feel like a superhero.
And I can walk on all these icy roads without falling.
It’s almost like I am a winter person.
I do love feeling equipped to get outside no matter what the weather is.
Here’s another belief I’ve had about myself for a long time.
I’m not an animal person.
But then I fell in love with the Davidson family dog, Harley.
I walk her around Glen Ellyn whenever I’m in town,
which is a lot.
And I’ve even brought her to Rock Island to keep me company.
So now I’m walking around outside in winter,
and I love this dog,
and I think maybe I am living my soul into the world.
Here’s another quote I wrote down this week while reading Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul:
The spiritual journey is one of constant transformation. In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times.
While walking with Simon on winter trails (and trailing behind him), I think about how much change he has lived through in his short life. I wonder if we are helping our kids to embrace change or if they will struggle harder to cling to the safety of “same” because we’ve dragged them through so much change.
…learn to embrace change at all times.
I don’t think I necessarily set out to learn this truth, but I’ve had the wild and wonderful privilege of discovering it.
And I know there is more change to come.
And I’m sure I will catch myself again in the struggle to remain the same.
But for now, every day that I take a willing step (both literal and spiritual) into whatever comes feels like a mercy.
The snow clearing crew at Augustana College is amazing.
Often I can walk there while the rest of Rock Island is still covered in snow and ice.
if it hasn’t snowed in a while,
the trails at Augustana are totally cleared.
But my street still looks like a sheet of ice.
So I wear my little ice grips until I get to the school.
And then take them off on this trail if it’s clear.
Here’s a photo just for my kids (and everyone who has ever read The Willoughbys) of me with my crampons on my head.
Even more absurd,
even though I own these ice grips,
I fell a few weeks ago on our steps, walking to the car (sans ice grips of course).
And so my superhero status quickly tanked.
Now I’m less “walking around on the ice” and more “staying at home nursing a bruised tailbone.”
So my walks have been either very short or nonexistent over the last couple of weeks.
But we had another big snow a few nights ago,
and it was the kind that makes all the trees look frosted.
So I got up and walked to school with Taido just to be the first footsteps on this wooded trail.
And to wonder in amazement at how much snow can gather on a tiny little branch.
I took so many photos that my fingers started to feel frozen in the single digit temps.
But there’s nothing quite like the first morning after a big snow.
Especially on a quiet trail.
Before the rest of the world is out and about.
And if I get snow inside my boots from going too deep into the tall drifts (that definitely happened),
Or when the wind makes my nose freeze and my eyes water,
I walk on home and find a little snuggle buddy.
Or a hot drink and a book.
Cheers to winter walking, winter reading and winter snuggling!
(And to softening the grip on remaining the same.)