I went for a walk this morning along the streets of my neighbourhood. It was snowy underfoot and raining overhead. The dog and I had to walk carefully because it’s a typical suburban street with houses, front lawns, and lots of uncleared sidewalks.
Then we got to house number 68. Walking their stretch of sidewalk was a breeze. Why? Because not only did they clear away the snow and ice, they put down handfuls of sand, too. Traction!
As we made our way along paths and bridges I started to think about all the people who have prepared the way for me. Sure, there is sand on icy sidewalks. But I also thought of those who pushed for the ordination of women fifty years ago. Composers who wrote music that makes my heart sing. Ministers in the 1960’s who created a summer camp where I would discover beauty and spiritual connection. My mom who made sure I went to university. A grandfather who planted the purple iris I now grow in my garden. Grandmothers who refined recipes that have become family treasures. So many people made pathways for me to travel.
This is a lesson for Advent. John the baptiser appears in church weeks before Jesus and hollers, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” God has important work to do, he says, so you’d better clear a path. And trailblazers have been making a way ever since.
Just look at the trail you’re on. Think of all the lawmakers, advocates, poets and parents who made a path for you. Think of the teachers and preachers, builders and boosters who cleared your way. Your journey has been made possible by countless men and women, some of them generations before you were even born.
While you’re at it, think about where you’re going, too, and heed John’s words. Remember that every step you take prepares a way for those coming behind you. Your wise and courageous work will open the way to projects you have not dreamed of yet. You could help usher in fresh justice, compassion, and peace. You could prepare a path toward a multitude of joys, innovations and accomplishments. God still has important work to do in the world.
As I write, two of my children are outside clearing the sidewalk after a day of freezing rain. They put on their boots, grabbed the shovels and got to work. They found the ice melter and will soon sprinkle handfuls all over the sidewalk. They are preparing the way for people we might never meet, and yet I am certain that some of them are already on their way to great things.
No matter what the weather is like in your corner of the world this Advent, I hope you will take note of the trailblazers who have blessed you. Perhaps you might also find inspiration to be one yourself.