Although my back’s grateful, many of the snowstorms rolling across the country have left just a small bit of snow here so far. Small bits of snow create their own hazards, however. A snow covered trail quickly becomes hazardous for jogging, so I walk. This past week we had a little snow and temperatures low enough to dissuade many of those who normally walk or run the trail. Those of us with desk jobs really have to make an effort to move. When I was out I was surprised by a couple of things. There were no other lunch-time walkers and it was above freezing. The almost untrodden snow gave under my feet and in the patches where the sun made it through, was actually wet. I took my usual constitutional and headed back to work.
These short, cold winter days are too treacherous for walking in the dark. Black ice isn’t a myth unless you can slip and fall on a myth. The next day it was bitterly cold. Still, skipping exercise a day is a slippery slope. I headed back to the trail. At first my footsteps from the previous day had led to a regular set of tracks where the snow had melted down and the pea gravel had dried out. Walking was safe here. As I reached the further, more wooded end of the trail it was quite different. Sheltered by the trees, my foot prints from the previous day had slightly melted and then refroze, leaving a track of ice that could easily twist an ankle. I began to think of the concept of following.
We find those whose wisdom compels us. We hear them in the classroom, the pulpit, or the street corner. Or we read them in a book. We might even see them on television or the internet. They seem to have something we lack, so we follow them. Their tracks often start out secure enough. Dry patches in an otherwise slippery covering of snow. We follow on, thinking we’ve found our way. Somewhat further down the path, however, the tracks become icy, showing us that even the great leaders have their own hidden secrets. The places where they too slip and fall. The wisdom we seek is collective. No one person has all the answers. If that were so it should be obvious to us all. Instead we need to strike out on that nearly unbroken snow to discover for ourselves.