Sneakers in the Snow

I haven’t written for months. Perhaps it was back in July, my last posting. The same descent into silence after months of writing happened when I moved to Boston last spring. Perhaps, along with the resettlement into a new job, new home, new doctor and dentist to be found, new routines to be discovered, a new way of writing needed as well. A new way to be writing in a place that asks something different and more than what was before. Perhaps it’s all an excuse. But there’s a pattern there that I’m curious about.

But something woke me this morning that said I have something to share and as I lay there in bed a short post came to life that I rose into writing a couple of hours go.  

And so, here I am on this early dark morning at the far end of crooked little wooden table in my little apartment kitchen that leans notably left. I feel like I’m on a ship at sea. Perhaps its why I like this place so much.

I’m now some six weeks into my new work here as the interim pastor at the First (and only) Congregational Church of Littleton, New Hampshire. When I first met the search committee on a zoom call last spring, I just liked them. It felt like a surprise to me and perhaps to them as well. I felt that here’s a group of people with whom I could have a good conversation as they wonder on their future.  And yes, something perhaps of the adventurer in me liked the idea of the North Country of New Hampshire across the Connecticut River from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. 

I wonder why I’ve been so happy here.  Maybe it’s this strange new world that requires my curiosity. Maybe the learning and discovery of pastoring in a small church – something I’ve never done. Maybe its the mountains out the window and across the doorstep that I’ve always loved and now live in.  Maybe this crooked little apartment with room for guests.  And maybe, yes, for the invitation of this time to be in time differently.

On Labor Day, my first morning here, I proceeded out for my morning run and tripped over the curb. I’ve looked like my five year old self for weeks now with a scabbed knee and elbow. My fall was followed by a week long virus, a sorer throat than I’ve had since that miserable hot summer in 1977 with mono. I recovered in time to hit the trail for a week of hiking on the Appalachian Trail and came home with a super sore left hand and sorer heel and just this week a stomach bug that sent me to bed for the last two days.  

I say all that not to gripe but to wonder that despite all that, I have truly been so happy here. Maybe in all the mishaps an invitation to slow down that I have needed and that being in this place requires. Maybe there is something under my rigorous exercise routine that needs a discovery.

And yes, being close to my family is important to me now and I like having my folks and assorted cousins and aunts 80 miles down the road.  My nephew Peter is up here now and we’re planning our hike up Washington on Saturday. 

On October 18, 2010 a young man from Maine took off in sneakers and shorts to climb Mount Washington in a snow storm on what he planned to be the last day of his life.  On that same day, Pam Bales, a member of the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team also took off hiking up Washington. When she was about to turn back because of the severe weather, she saw footsteps in the snow and followed them.

The other night Peter and I saw “Infinite Storm” about what happened that day on Mount Washington. Though the mountain in the movie isn’t Washington, and though everything that happens in the movie didn’t all happen, what did happen is that in the midst of a terrible storm in a terrible time in a young man’s life, a connection was made that changed everything. 

Sunday’s sermon carried a message about how curiosity leads to connection, and how connection leads to growing community. It doesn’t always happen that way of course.  As Ty Gagne, the author of the article in Appalachia Journalthat inspired “Infinite Storm” said, “We all have walked by the sneaker tracks in the snow.” And yes, sometimes we too have followed them. The connections we make don’t always lead to the creation of community, that is true too – or at least not in the ways we expect.  

“Infinite Storm” came out this spring when we were all climbing out of isolation again. And here we are this fall after another round of COVID infections, stepping back and out again. A lot of us out here wandering in our sneakers in the snow. That is, if we’re so fortunate – others of us in our bare feet. 

And yes, many of us in our stumbling ways still longing for a connection that we perhaps have forgotten how to make. All out here somewhere between losing our way and the possibility of being found on it. Perhaps that’s why I woke to write this morning, to make a connection.  Perhaps, that’s why you read this little post.  Perhaps its what we’re all looking for.  

5 thoughts on “Sneakers in the Snow”

  1. Thanks Peter! I’ve missed your posts and was pleased to see this one in my inbox. It made me think about connections. I also like reading that you are in a place that makes you happy. Best, Gloria



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s