It's been snowing for days now.
We are, what you might call, snowed in.
Our road is half a mile long, and in order to get out to the highway, the road has to be plowed almost every day. Thankfully, we have wonderful neighbors who show up and plow the road, often without being asked. They might come as late as midnight or as early as 6AM. Without their help, we would be up a frozen creek without a (useless) paddle. To get out of our house at all requires constant shoveling. Thankfully, we have a couple of good snow shovels and the wherewithal to shovel.
Blessed to have a roof over our heads, a warm house, plenty of wood to keep a fire blazing, and food in the pantry, we are safe, comfortable, and able to enjoy all the magic that comes with a snow day. We forgo the gym, and head out the back door on x-country skis for a killer workout. Shoveling snow replaces the need for free weights. Strapping on snow shoes, we track a small herd of elk, spot a squirrel popping up through the snow to grab a snack at the bird feeder, and watch wild turkeys march through the woods. We nap in front of the fire, catch up on reading, play endless games of backgammon, and cook hearty comfort food. Tucked in front of the fire, conversations slow down and go deep. These are the treasures of being snowed in.
It isn't all snow globes and magic. Meetings and social gatherings get canceled, plans have to change, and eventually, in spite of the outdoor adventures and indoor coziness, cabin fever sets in. When the snow falls for days, so does the pace of life. Everything slows down, and when things slow down, our anxiety usually speeds up. We find that we suddenly have to sit with the discomfort of whatever it is we try to avoid by getting out and getting busy, or by distracting ourselves through binge watching our go-to series (again), or by losing ourselves in the blackhole of cyberspace. But that same discomfort is calling for our attention. It is the souls way of getting on our radar screen, inviting us to dig deeper, venture further and climb higher. It might be asking us to step fully into our untended pain, our unaddressed issues, or our unresolved inner and outer conflicts. It might be urging us to step over our fears and out into the world. It could be imploring us to stop playing small and start imagining something larger. Finding ourselves snowbound is a summons to become free of whatever binds us up. It is a call to step onto the trail,and hike our way through whatever it is that blocks our way to living as fully and wholeheartedly as we can. And the trailhead is always, always, always, squarely beneath our feet, even if buried under three feet of snow. The next good step is there to be taken.
Snow isn't required to get snowed in. We all know the feeling of finding ourselves stuck inside and unable to get out, with drifts so high that we can't see the sky. Who shows up to "plow our road" without being asked? Do they know we are snowed in? If not, time for us to ask for their help. (And as much as I hate to admit it, that almost always proves to be a next good step.) What "shovel" do we reach for when our way is blocked? Don't have one? Time to go find one and learn how to use it.
The next time we are snowed in, will it be a call to settle in and sit with whatever we find there? Or, will it be an invitation to strap on our snow shoes and step out to discover the life that is waiting for us outside our door? Either way, answering the call is our next step.