As my granddaughter ran ahead onto the lake, her snow shoes leaving tracks in the deep snow, I wondered if Mary Schaffer would have explored this area on a similar winter weather day. It was during a gruelling summer back-country trip in 1908 when 47 year-old Schaffer, along with her Nakoda First Nations travel companions, found Maligne Lake. Most likely she was also the first white-woman to float upon Maligne Lake’s waters. She also surveyed the lake for the Geographical Board of Canada and now a hiking trail that loops the lake is named in her honour . As I sped up my steps to catch up with my granddaughter, my metal snowshoes light and my hands warm in my synthetic gloves, I wondered what drove Mary Schaffer to endure the thick forests, valleys and mountain passes full of treacherous trails, wildlife and biting bugs that summer? What drives any of us to endure the hard to reach a goal?
I’ve been struggling with my why to write, and I’ve written less. It all seems so hard, this writing process. My time to complete a piece has expanded. Hours go by and I’ve only a paragraph written. I use the delete key more than the space bar. I measure these times with others where words flowed with creative descriptions, good syntax, and pacing. Now I check google for the definitions of writing elements required for good writing! However, like a mountain switchback, this time I trust is part of the journey to adapting my writing to His plan, not mine. Recently I was reminded (by no coincidence, I am sure) of my God-given strengths that include input (research), learning and connectivity. What is His purpose for me with these strengths? I am not sure. But I can focus on these strengths when discouraged and follow my passions like Mary Schaffer whose deeper explorations continues to bless many.
For it was Mary Schaffer’s why derived from wanting to complete her late-husband’s botanical guidebook that sent her on a journey to deep explorations into the back-country Canadian Rockies. She sought out relationships with others that understood the land to teach and travel with her. In fact, it was one of her companions that saw Maligne Lake after continuing alone up a mountain when the crew was almost ready to give-up. Her own passions pushed her into the rocky mountain wilderness and she had others come alongside her to help her mission. Our writing journey too, can take us into the wilderness of unforeseen setbacks, switchbacks and trails. We may even feel we are going backwards at times! Yet, we also have companions such as our Inscribe members, friends, and mentors that go ahead of us to show us the way. Most importantly, we always have God as our companion who knows the path ahead.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 KJV
My granddaughter and I rested on a bench, our boots still strapped in our snowshoes. The winter sun warm, we stripped off our hats and mittens. I had us pose for a picture, capturing the moment, feeling blessed in the beauty of Maligne Lake and grateful for explorers like Mary Schaffer who pressed on through the hard, adapted to the new trails set out before her, and found her way through the journey. May you too, I pray, continue to be an explorer on your writing journey.
You can find more of Lynn J Simpson's writings on faith, books, and the writing life at Lynn J Simpson