Of worn paths and unsteady steps

grassMore than an acre of our yard is fenced. Plenty of room for our dogs to run and play and explore.

And yet they have worn a criss-cross of paths from one spot to another. A dirt track from the patio to the pond. Another from the gate to a favorite sunning spot.

Wide open spaces. Self-restricting patterns.

I wish I could say I were different.

That I haven’t worn a rut of behaviors, attitudes, reactions across the landscape of my life. That I don’t return to the known again and again, even if a wider view might reveal another route would be shorter. Or at the very least, more scenic.

If the paths affected me alone, they would still be worth reevaluating. But when I watched a new dog instinctively use the trail my own dogs had created instead of traversing the space on her own terms, I began to consider there might be larger consequences to my less-than-adventurous life paths.

Twice this week I have stepped into the unknown. Abandoned the groove and quickly disappeared in the uncharted territory.

I half expected to fall off a cliff.

Turns out the unworn ground is just as stable as my usual path.

The grass is taller there. My footing not as sure.

But when I look closely, I see the markers of those who bravely stepped before me. Who abandoned the known to explore the what could be.

And I go on.


Linking this reflection of Small Wonder with my friend and fellow blogger, Kelly Chripczuk, who hosts a Community of blogging Beauty Hunters at her site. Because our Big God shows himself in the most amazing small ways. #smallwonder

8 thoughts on “Of worn paths and unsteady steps

  1. Love that you didn’t fall off a cliff (wink) and you tried a new path…it’s funny we simply turned right instead of left one day at a beach, we can drive to on a weekend, and we discovered a whole new world 🙂 I’m realizing it takes conscious effort to try a new path in real life and to etch new thoughts into our minds.
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…Renew 16: When you see a love not of this worldMy Profile

  2. Great post! I have tendency of forming roads which I then religiously follow, even though they are not the best way to get where I want to. Even though I need to make a bigger effort than going by some other way. And even thought the views would be much more beautiful if I would go some other way. But I’m too afraid of the change to be able to use any other path.
    Luckily God has the tendency of throwing me out of my safe roads and into the scaring wilderness. Be it to try out something new or to get to know a new person. And He always holds my hand when I feel too scared to do anything alone.
    Joanna Sormunen recently posted…Let Your Word That You Promised Come True – Prayer MondayMy Profile

  3. Sharon

    Don’t we learn so much from our dogs?

    I am a creature of habit, too. And all too often my fears dictate the paths I travel. Worn-out and worn-down trails that might be comfortable, but don’t lead to much growth. Yes, Lord help me, I want to find the taller grass…

    Great analogy. It spoke to me today.


  4. This is a fascinating – and eye opening – observation, friend. I’ve noticed on my walks through the neighborhood, through parks and other parts of the city, I tend to follow the same routes. Sometimes, I try to switch it up, but it’s like my feet subconsciously direct me back to what’s known, and I find myself passing familiar landmarks with some surprise. And you’re right, how easy we fall into these worn paths. How brave it is to abandon our grooves and step into the unknown. I love this realization you come to at the end, how this new ground is no less stable, even if our footing is less sure. I resonate so deeply with that. Grateful, as always, to be journeying with you to beyond the known.
    Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish recently posted…Gathering courage (#fmf)My Profile

  5. I love this concept, Beth. Barbara Brown Taylor writes something similar in “Learning to Walk in the Dark” and Martin Laird tells a similar story about racing dogs who were kept in a pen for much of their life – the one never learned to run anything more than small, tight circles, even out in open fields. It’s fascination to think how those paths got started and the kind of group-think that keeps us in them.
    Kelly Chripczuk recently posted…Grace Notes (#Small Wonder Link-up)My Profile

  6. “The uynworn ground is just as stable as my usual path.” Amen!
    Jody Collins recently posted…The Poetry of your Soul (#smallwonder link up)My Profile

  7. Love this. Cows and horses and deer make specific paths too. Maybe other animals do as well. I take comfort in those paths. There are places that I have ridden my horse many times and they can still look brand new, those old worn paths. But it is important to step out like you did and explore new things. Good, good for you. I hope you share more about those explorations in the weeks to come.
    Katie Andraski recently posted…How I Hate LentMy Profile

  8. Our dogs used to run a path along the fence line. it was kind of funny… over and over the same path.
    Now that they are gone it is all growing up and looking different.
    Great writing.
    Sharon O recently posted…Five minute word challengeMy Profile

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