I was walking a river path in the northern third of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. My rubber half-boots made sucking sounds when, avoiding puddles, I walked on the soggy chartreuse grass. The thaw had left the ground and spring rains melted the earth. It was mud season.
Near the end of my trek, on the low side of the path, was a narrowing between trees. On each side grew tangles of brambles. Across the whole of the path was a sizeable puddle…and a quandary. How was I going to get to the other side? I was too old and heavy to leap across the four foot expanse and too unsteady to agilely tip-toe across its unknown slipper depths.
I studied the gray-green surface and thought… There might be only a thin layer of mud below. Then again, the path I had been walking along had had sizeable divots from exposed mole runs or possibly foxes—pretty good chance of a hole beneath the water. I picked up a large stone and tossed it in the center, sighing as it disappeared.
I imagined that if I stared long enough at the puddle some unknown saint-of-conundrums would miraculously dry it up. Or possibly a bunny would come along and hop through the puddle, revealing the depth. And where was that chivalrous man willing to dirty his cloak for a damsel in distress?
I can imagine a lot of things, but couldn’t imagine away that puddle.
When perplexed—by people, rarely by nature—I try to listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit. A Bible verse (Isaiah 30:21) came to mind, “…this is the way; walk in it...” God’s humor at that moment was nearly lost. I looked to the heavens above naked branches and with a tone of sarcasm asked, “Seriously, you’re going with that verse?”
I rolled-up my pant legs, then unfolded the cuff of my socks so they were higher above my ankles. I slipped off my half boots and walked cautiously down the soggy path, letting out a small gasp at the first step into the cold muddy water.
Gingerly keeping my balance I brought the other foot down and sank ankle deep and gasped again as the cold mud covered my foot. Another step and the anxiety gave way to hilarity of the suck-plop sound of each step.
Holding on to the trunk of a tree I squished about—feet nearly numb with cold—in the gravelly muck. I giggled then self-consciously silenced myself peering around to see if any one was near. What would they think of a gray-haired woman in 50º weather stomping about ankle deep in mud? I stopped my playing and stepped carefully out the other side.
A few yards up was a fallen tree. I sat on it, pulled off my socks and smacked them against its trunk to remove the mud. Drying my feet with a scarf, I rolled down pant legs and slipped on shoes.
Having a little fun traversing the mud made the journey memorable. Sometimes when faced with the mud of life, we just have to “walk in it,” eventually getting to the high side and cleaning things up as best we can.
Looking back on muddy situations in your life. Were you able to see God’s grace to get through it? Find the humor in it? Did you learn a lesson on how to “clean up” after it?
Read more reflections and prayers by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, at Morning Rose Prayer Garden, on Patheos Catholic channel.
Copyright 2014, Margaret Rose Realy
About the Author
Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB lives an eremitic life and is the author of Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, 2nd Edition, and A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. A freelance writer with a Benedictine spirituality, Margaret has a master’s degree in communications and is a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Advanced Master Gardener, liturgical garden consultant, and workshop/retreat leader.