The needle on my compass is broken. It used to be quite reliable as far as my navigational partner, but currently it stopped pointing the way. Now what?! Maybe it is a good thing.
I often find that often the compass is not necessarily “broken” as much as it has an intrinsic intelligence that pauses its function to allow us to switch to our intuitive devices. I think things happen to keep us from plodding along life’s path in a “lemming-like” state just because. Like early sailors, if they were caught out at sea without a map or compass, they switched between what God placed before them, mixed in with a little “gut”, and they fearlessly tread onward driven by passion and fear of standing still.
However, when the path forward sometimes seems rather dull, frightful, unchallenging, or perhaps dismal at a given moment, we can take a peek in our rearview mirror. Although not always wise to “live” in yesterday, we can retrace a few paces and maybe examine our impact.
Is where we have been only what it appears on the surface? Is our past only comprised of our own circumstances? Are we travelling alone? I think we leave footprints.
In our travels we leave behind visible markers of our presence. Sometimes we leave perishable traces of where we have been–momentary evidence that we have passed through. It is our footprint on life’s sandy beach simply waiting on the tide of time to erase it. From the simple gestures, assistances we have loaned to a stranger, and idle banter with passers-by we can indeed leave a footprint along our daily path. Think back at the end of your day to simple moments of truth where we maybe encountered a stranger, exchanged contact, and then proceeded onward. Do you remember them? There lies a footprint. They took the place of another thought. In your absence you live on in someone else’s life–even if momentarily. Who knows where the nudge will take you?
Sometimes we walk through damp concrete–our steps indelibly present–proof of our presence strong and visible eventually hardening. Maybe they were words of encouragement that turned another’s life around at a crucial moment. Many times we are not always aware of the depth and impact our presence can make on another. We may not be aware of how close to another’s core we come. Sometimes with a simple anecdote we may save a life somewhere down the line.
Some of us are teachers. We share our skill so that another may flourish. Words, trades, jobs, and knowledge are precious gifts never to be taken lightly. Used in the hands of a creative master, we never know what momentum may be given to a simple statement or craft. Maybe our footprint here was simply stepping first in the right direction allowing others to follow.
As mentors past or present, we must not concern ourselves as much with where we are now going, but to remain at peace that we have fertilized another’s journey. Being a parent is one of the most crucial of this example. “Do as I say, and not as I do?” I still think we should lead by example noticing that a child learns life through our footsteps. If we are mindful now of our steps, less apology and reconciliation may be needed later. Time passed through anger and pain that could be well spent exchanging quality time–time spent laying a dual set of steps for future travelers. Lay your footsteps for your children as if they were pavers to cross life’s chasm. Often they are.
Sometimes our footsteps go through another’s garden. Sometimes we tread where we are unwelcome. We may have good or bad intention but still we find we have trampled another’s field. As with flowers, they can be damaged; they can be destroyed, but can also be replanted–seeds can be re-sown. We must realize that we may not be welcome to help in the recultivation. Even though we may be willing to dirty our hands and dig, and be willing to water the seeds for new growth, sometimes we must move onward and create our own garden where our footsteps are welcome. Maybe this new space must be fertilized with the lesson learned that we need to be aware that we also travel in a path shared by others, and that we must respect our fellow journeyers.
I find as I venture onward, I have become less attached to the path I leave but have increased in my respect of it. I realize that I am not the only one stepping. I also realize how much my steps leave behind a part of me both good and bad, and sometimes they are brief in their presence, and sometimes will remain long after I have left this Earth.
In my presence, and my awareness of where I am now, I can at least try my best to be respectful in where I leave my footprints. I also realize that sometimes I may leave them where I am completely oblivious to. I hope I don’t trample your flowers.
I finally realize that at some point along the way, I was often uncertain of what lie ahead, but now as I look back, I realize I kept walking onward. Sometimes I needed faith to keep moving to be able to put the story together later by examining the footsteps. I just hope when I reach the end of my journey, my steps were flanked by my loved ones, that they were pointed in a good direction and that when in a deep or dark area, the steps continued out of the valley.
Thanks for walking with me today.