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Pilgrim's Progress

All of life seems so cyclical. 

I exercise, grow strong, catch a cold, then try to rest, recover, and get back into my exercise routine again. Or I make disciplinary charts, I enforce rules, the children obey, peace reigns supreme. But when I put up my feet, my children turn into miscreants again. 

Or I have a moment of leisure time, I find the inspiration to get things done, I multi-task while checking items off my list. As can be expected, my children foil my attempts at progress. I end up lashing out at them until I realize that I’ve put things before people. Then I collapse into tears, pray, and try to plan for more leisure time again.

No one needs convincing that laundry and cleaning are cyclical. And the coming and going of generations is all so repetitive. Children grow up and have children of their own. Where the aged are now, one day we will be.

How could life be anything but cyclical? We are, after all, traveling around and around the sun. What is mended will be broken, and what is broken will be mended. 

I can’t believe, however, that even if my actions should be done again and again—first with chubby clumsy hands, then strong ones, and finally shaking arthritis ones—that what I’m doing every day is as repetitious as the planets orbiting our sun. I want to believe that the changing of the seasons is bringing about a change in me too. An improvement. 

Life must be more like a spiral then, like a pathway that circles around and around a mountain, always rising closer and closer to the top. Naturally, each lap seems so similar to the last because I’ve been around this side of the mountain numerous times already. See, there is that boulder again and that oak tree. The same discussions about how we will spend Christmas and Easter. 

I see yet another view of that river down below, that river that I’ve seen a hundred times but that I can see more of today. Here I am again, looking back on my childhood and trying to make sense of it. And the longer I live and raise my own children, the more sense some things make. I see my growing-up years from a higher vantage point.

Perhaps up here on the mountain, I can look down at last year and see that rough spot that I traversed, that part that seemed so dark and full of fears. I see now that that part of the path is set into huge monolith cliffs. Those cliffs mar this side of the mountain, and no wonder I despaired last year. It is such a narrow way, so precariously carved into the granite face. And my trail traverses those looming cliffs yet again this year. Who knows how many more times I must come to it again and again until I have gained more altitude than they? But this time, I know that once I am beyond them, I will be higher up than I am now. And closer to the top.

It must be this way with everything, I imagine. The first time my son had a diaper blow-out, I photographed it to show my husband what I had to deal with while he was at work. The next dozen blow-outs were inconvenient and gross. But by the hundredth time or so, it just became a part of having babies. It was normal, something I had to clean up because I was the mother. It wasn't wrong to bemoan the first blowout, but it was right to not make a big deal about the hundredth. I had risen above the complaining and broadcasting and dramatizing of the event and had finally learned to simply kick those rocks out of my path and continue. 

I pray that one day, I will be able to do the same with the fits my daughter throws and the devious smiles my son gives right before he disobeys. It is normal. It is part of climbing this mountain. And when my eyes are fixed on the summit, that glorious snow-caped peak where my Savior-God stands, all these cliffs and rocks don’t seem so daunting anymore. They are, in fact, the way to Him.


This, is really, really good! Thank you.
Gretchen said…
I think you're right.

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