*cusp: a dividing line between two very different things
One cold, bright-blue day in Colorado, I boarded a chairlift with my husband Frank. We strapped ourselves into seats that reminded me of the seats on Ferris wheels that my brother and I rode as children. But on this ‘ride’ there were long narrow skis attached to my feet, and the higher we lifted, the longer and less substantial those skis looked.
Frank was a good skier; my experience was limited to group lessons and a few short runs on the baby slopes. The time had come to try a ‘real mountain,’ so Frank chose a minimally challenging slope and gladly accompanied me.
The ride up was exhilarating and I paid little attention to how high we were, but suddenly the gears shifted and slowed; it was time to get off. Couples ahead of us glided gracefully from their seats onto the snow. My exit was not exactly graceful, but I stayed upright and joined Frank as he looked out over the breathtaking vista below – way below.
“Now what?” I asked Frank, trying to control a rising panic.
“Now we go down,” he calmly replied.
I stood on the cusp of that mountain like a newborn foal whose legs might buckle under her at any moment. “I don’t think I can do this.” “You can. Just take it slowly, stop when you need to, and don’t forget to breathe. I will stay as close to you as I can.” And he set off slowly but smoothly, turning now and then to check on me.
Taking as deep a breath as I could manage, I pushed my poles behind me and hesitantly started down the mountain. It was not a pretty sight, but I made it to the bottom, standing up straight.
As our country poises on the cusp of a post-pandemic world, I remember my fear and uncertainty that day on the mountain. My knees are not exactly wobbly, but in my heart of hearts I have serious reservations about returning to a pre-COVID life. For twelve months, I have loved spending long quiet days at home; I have read books I never ‘had time’ to read. I have relished unhurried time in the yard, a feast for the senses and the soul, just waiting to be noticed.
I’m vaccinated, healthy, and fit to return to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be, acutely aware that for those who have lost loved ones, economic opportunities, even their own health, there is no return to a post-pandemic life. I do have a choice, however, and I am determined not to squander my newfound calmness and equanimity.
But how to do that?
Bible nerd that I am, I thought about Scripture that has inspired and bolstered me, and remembered this verse from Jeremiah: Stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for the ancient path where the good way lies; and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. – Jeremiah 6:16.
Those will be my guiding words, and perhaps can be yours as well, as we turn the heavy, painful pages of last year and push off for new beginnings: Stand; Look; Ask. Then (and only then), walk the way with those new awarenesses, and find rest for our souls. May it be so.