Tracks in the Snow

Fr. Stephen Powley | 02 April 2022

Have you ever gone for a walk right after a snow storm? I recall going for a hike with my dog after it had snowed the day before. We were hiking on the snow.  As I started making tracks in the snow, I was rejoicing that no one else had made tracks…we were alone to enjoy God’s creation.  A few days later, I went out to the same area after it had snowed again.  I took the same route and there were no tracks in the snow.  I was again making the first tracks.  As I thought about this, I realized that all signs of me being there earlier in the week were gone.  It was as if I had never been there. Then it hit me:  My life is really only tracks in the snow (tracks in the sand for those of you living in warmer climates).

Now this isn’t meant to be some depressing devotion.  In fact, the thought didn’t depress me one bit.  It simply put my life into a right perspective. Some of the Fathers of our Faith tell us we should always keep our death in remembrance…not to be sad or depressed but to live rightly before God.

Many people live their lives trying to make a name for themselves.  They are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. That often includes doing things that are not morally right before God. By realizing that we will die and that our “tracks in the snow” will be soon gone, we might begin to rethink our priorities in life and how we live each day.

In Genesis 5:32, we read that Noah was 500 years old when he became a father.  Wow, that was a lot of years!  How many of us have said to ourselves that we would like to live a long, long life? But there is a reality check just a few pages later when we read: “And then Noah died.”  It is not how many years we get to live, but how we live those years.  Consider these words from Psalm 90:

“The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” 

We “gain a heart of wisdom” when we recognize the shortness of our lives. If we can do this, perhaps we can manage to not get caught up with self-importance, power and prestige, or the “pleasures” of this world.  A “heart of wisdom” is to recognize that this life is gift from God and then to live accordingly.

Each day, may we take great care as we make our “tracks in the snow.” In doing so, we can find great joy in living our lives the right way with God and with a “heart of wisdom.”

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