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In Kathleen Norris’ beautiful book Dakota, A Spiritual Geography she writes about the Great Plains and how so many people have been making a mass exodus due to life being so hard on every level.

She writes, “The Plains are not forgiving. Anything that is shallow—the easy optimism of a [untested] homesteader; the false hope that denies geography, climate, history; the tree whose roots don’t meet groundwater—will dry up and blow away.”

Wow! That has been me at times in my life. Not being grounded enough in the faith—both in God and myself—I’ve jumped in foolishly at times and ended up being whipped around by the powerful winds of life.

Yet, I’ve yet to be blown away, completely that is. This is in part to my being so fortunate to have some very grounded mentors in my life. They have patiently taught me that missteps do not equal failure. Beau Armistead says it’s like climbing the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes, the trail grows so rough and steep you come to a switchback. It feels like you are moving away from your goal but in fact, you are still moving toward it, you just have to change your route.

Life is like that. Sometimes, you take a switchback, but the only failure is if you quit. No matter our age or stance in life, we all need community to help us stay rooted on this journey that can be so rough and rocky at times, and especially a solid mentor or two—for we never know when the great howling winds will come at our backs.

I hope this day you choose grace for yourself and others for all the switchback we humans have to take even as we press onward toward our goal.

Love, your sister along the journey,

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