“Nature often teaches me about moving from obstacles to freedom from them. When I brought overseas visitors to the area of the Black Hills in South Dakota, I arose early one morning and went by myself to walk the loop around a nearby lake. It was early April, and I missed the sign about possible ice on the path. Not long after I started walking, I faced an unwelcome sight: huge boulders and the path between them filled with a grim layer of ice. I looked ahead and saw more of the same. I had no hiking boots. I knew I could fall and break a bone, which would ruin the trip for my friends. I paused. What to do? In that silence, ever so softly I sensed where I might go.

“I turned around, and after a short jaunt, I found a way to walk into the woods. A path there took me on soft pine needles among evergreen trees to a place above the icy boulders where I could look out only immense pillars of sandstone and beyond to the beautiful valley. In this place I found a small open space among the stones where I could sit, put my head back on the rocks, and rest my feet in front of me on a flat stone. I felt held by those ancient parts of earth and cradled by the One who led me beyond the blockage to that surprising embrace of pleasure.

“Sometimes turning away from an obstacle is not easy to do. And sometimes it will not bring immediate relief as the new path did for me. But if we turn inward when something or someone blocks the way ahead, when we pray through a difficult situation, eventually we turn the corner and discover a peace-filled place within ourselves.

“The flow of life will not always be upbeat. There will be periods when pain of body, mind, or spirit temporarily thrusts joy aside. This is to be expected. I will not always feel content, but inner peace can remain constant. That is, if my resistances cease and I am ready to have the chains broken.”