When I was about 10 years old, I made a discovery that didn't seem unusual at the time.
While exploring a new neighborhood being build near my home, I bushwacked through a thicket of trees and found about two acres of grassy fields beckoning beyond.
The grass was chest high, gone to seed on top. Between the drying blades of grass and the sun-warmed earth, the field exuded a nutty, welcoming scent.
I waded in, leaving a meandering wake as I searched for that perfect, secluded spot somewhere in the middle. I lay down and felt the warm ground nestling the contours of my body. It seemed silent at first, then I became aware of the high thin breeze caressing the grass and sighing through the trees that fringed the field.
The grass cut that upstate New York breeze just enough to coax off my sweater -- the perfect pillow -- and I gazed at the cobalt sky, letting clouds flee by like so many careless summer days.
I came back pretty often for a while. I brought my best friend and we'd lie side by side calling out the ridiculous shapes our minds formed from the clouds.
"That one looks like a railroad engine pulling a duck!"
"Hey, over there! Two cows joined at the hoofs and staring at a Christmas tree!"
"Yes, I see it! I really see it!" we'd yelp, our laughter rolling like cotton balls over the waving grass.
The following spring, there was one perfect day when the sun blazed on our town's wintry coat of snow. The streets were black with running water and melting streams burbled beneath piles of shrinking snowbanks.
I got off my schoolbus two stops early so I could walk in amazement, coat thrown over my shoulder, stomping the last vestiges of ice from puddles that had been rock-solid the day before. I laughed at the sheer joy of the day.
Since I was 10, I've built my own snowy mountains atop those days of carefree joy -- responsibilities, sadness, anxieties, heartbreaks, misplaced desires. I've strayed far from the grassy field.
I know I cannot go back.
But God offers each of us a path forward that leads once more to joy -- our loving savior Jesus.
And even as I tread these snowy mountains of sin, holding His hand, I know where I will oneday emerge.
I will be nestled in God's loving hand, each contour of my body a perfect fit. Jesus will shine on me like a bright diamond in the sapphire sky. And I will listen, in peace and utter joy, to the high, thin breeze of the Holy Spirit.