When I was a boy we used to live across the road from a big hill with huge Oak trees growing out of it. When Winter would arrive and thick, heavy snow would fall my two brothers would grab their sleds and head over to the hill for a day of fun. I remember watching them with envy because I was still too small to go sledding. Finally, one Winter I was deemed big enough and joined my brothers as they carried their sleds up the long hill and prepared to ride down it.
The first few trips I rode with one of my brothers and had the time of my life. It was so exhilarating feeling the wind whip across my face as I flew down the hillside on the wooden sled. Near the end of the day I was overjoyed too when my oldest brother decided to let me try riding the sled all by myself. I climbed on it full of excitement and laid on my stomach. Then with one big push my brother sent me zooming down the snowy hillside. I was doing pretty well too until I hit an old stump hidden by the snow and went off course, straight towards one of those big Oak trees. My eyes bulged in my sockets, my heart pounded in my chest and I could hear myself screaming. At the last possible second I rolled off and the sled crashed into the tree. I could hear my brothers running down the hill yelling, “You have to steer! You have to steer!”
Sadly, that wasn’t the last time I failed to steer when some obstacle knocked me off course in my life. Many times problems, troubles, and my own failings have sent me crashing into the trees of anger, frustration, and despair. I am still learning that life isn’t always safe sledding. I am still learning that sometimes it is up to me to steer myself back to love, back to kindness, back to goodness, and back to God.
Life is a trip, but no one ever said it was a smooth ride. Steer well then. Steer straight. Steer true. Steer your soul towards the light and the love we are all meant for.
Joseph J. Mazzella