Winter travel can be treacherous! Not only do rain, snow and ice effect the roads we travel but the wind and cold can be brutal if we have to stop unexpectedly. Recently, sudden blizzard-like conditions effected a stretch of highway just outside of Kansas City that resulted in a 40 car pile-up. We actually knew three of the families involved. Amazingly, nobody was seriously hurt but it was a huge reminder of how things can change with little notice during the Winter season.
This past weekend some friends and I were in Kansas City. Saturday brought the biggest, most beautiful snowflakes I had ever seen. They were incredible! It was the kind of snow that was wonderful to watch and not hard to drive in. By Saturday night, as we were unloading our vehicle at the hotel, we were being assaulted with ice pellets! Sunday, one of our husbands called and suggested that we stay another night and not chance the three hour drive home in the evening hours. Where they live there was lots of snow and reports of poor road conditions. For a variety of reasons, we decided to set out on the journey home and see what the miles from here to there would bring. We agreed that we would take it slow and if we needed to stop, we surely would.
It took us a bit longer, but we arrrived home safe and sound. Along the way, visibility was fine in some spots, poor in others. Some stretches of the road were clear, others were snow packed and still others had icy spots. Cars in ditches and a couple accidents were constant reminders that even though it looked relatively harmless, things could change in an instant.
It's all a really good analogy for life. Changes in conditions are inevitable but still can catch us offguard. We all agree that black ice is the worst! We can deal with the snow and avoid the ice when we can see it, but black ice can send you spinning with absolutely no warning! We don't see it coming and don't know it's there. When the spinning has stopped and the scare is past, we can find ourselves headed in the opposite direction! No doubt, we have all hit patches of 'black ice' on the road in our lives.
If you've been following the Olympics then you have seen heartwrenching examples of this 'black ice.' I have just caught portions of it but have been struck by a couple of the situations that I have seen. Many of you will know what I am talking about. Just a few days before her short program, Joannie Rochette's (a Canadian skater) parents arrived from Montreal to watch her skate on the world stage – the Olympics! Tragically, her mom died from a sudden heart attack on Sunday. On Tuesday, in honor of her mother who was her greatest fan, she decided to go ahead and compete in the short program. She performed incredibly well by any standards, but especially considering the pain and stress she was under. She ended with tears, hand over her heart, clearly heartbroken. Then, last night, after performing her long program, she captured the bronze medal! She carried herself with such grace and courage under the public eye and Olympic pressure and was truly an inspiration to me.
Then, there was the heartbreak for the Danish speed skater. He was set to not only win, but most likely break the Olympic record in his race, when his coach motioned for him to move into a different lane. When he did, he was disqualified. He is no doubt sick over his dreams and goals being dashed. When I saw him interviewed he said, "Everyone makes mistakes but this was an expensive mistake." That was through a translator and honestly, I think it lost a bit in translation. That expensive mistake cost him everything in terms of his athletics. I can not imagine what his coach must be going through.
Both athletes have trained most of their lives for these moments at the Olympics. Neither could have seen their set of circumstances coming. When it came right down to it, it had nothing to do with their athletic performances. Black ice. A major difference for them, however, is that they had their devastating moments on camera for all the world to see.
In the Winters of our lives, when we don't know what the road ahead holds, we can be tempted to stay put and do nothing. Sometimes that is absolutely what we need to do. Other times, it is simply our fears taking over that we need to push through. The Winters of our life can frighten and paralyze us. It is definitely a road you don't want to travel by yourself! We travel a little slower, become more cautious and maybe stop a little more often. On our trip home good company and great music helped keep our minds off the negative possibilities and fixed on the fun. We remained thankful that we had a reliable vehicle, a great driver, a full tank of gas, heat, and a few snacks.
Safe travel really is nothing to take for granted. This road of life isn't always easy to navigate, especially when the road signs and lane lines that we depend on to guide us are not visible. The reality, however, is that if we can somehow keep looking ahead, we'll see that the snow won't last forever and that Spring is coming!
Traveling the Unpredictable Road With You,