Nor'Easter came through today, freezing the ice and snow that had fallen over the weekend. The uncertainty it stirred was palpable, making decisions difficult to resolve and doubts doubling in size.
The first snow of the season always sets me back and this one has been particularly difficult, just like it's difficult for me to navigate slippery sidewalks and even slicker parking lots. After work today, though, I picked up a pair of YakTrax for my shoes. There's a good chance I won't be wearing them long, but even having them for the short walk from the store to my car made them worth the cost. Their unique combination of bungee cord and spring makes walking in ice just a little more sure. I admit, I'm a ninny on the ice, looking very much like an old woman, hunched over her feet, mincing each step. I had a man 20 years older than me help me across the street the other day. I definitely haven't been able to walk with my chin parallel to the ground like my chiropractor recommends to keep my neck in shape.
So this has gotten me thinking about the stories we tell ourselves and each other during rough times. What shape are the stories that we rarely tell, but hook onto our souls to navigate slippery territory? There are the parables of Jesus and observations of Rumi. There are the old tales of how the world works, why the weather changes and what we can do to appease angered spirits who send harshness to our lives. There are the newer tales of survival we pass to each other, cautionary tales of slipping on the ice, finding new tools, and trying again.
Because that's what the stories do for us, give us hope to keep on going, to not give up to despair. That's the power of stories to heal and to strengthen ourselves and our community. When we find ourselves in difficult times, we can look to the tales and parables we've heard to help us through. We can also make new stories, tell of our experiences in mythic ways, stretching them into heroic tales. We do it all the time, but when we do it consciously, with intent to survive and thrive the challenges we're faced with, our lives can be transformed into the lives we hope to experience and share.