Pushing Forward – Guest Post by Shawn Smucker

I first met Shawn Smucker in a coffee shop, and ever since I’ve been drawn to his stories: humorous, reflective, intuitive. Shawn writes a daily blog at ShawnSmucker.com, but besides that, he writes much more. Here’s the bio from his blog, and below that, you’ll find his guest post about pushing forward (literally):

Shawn lives with his wife Maile and their four children on two acres of country in Paradise, Pennsylvania. When he’s not writing in the workshop above their garage, or chasing one of the four kids around the yard, or re-reading his favorite books, you might find him in his first-ever garden willing the seeds to grow into something. Anything. He is determined that the garden will look good, at least from a distance, and if that means cultivating green weeds then so be it.

Most of the things he cares deeply about are represented in his completed, or ongoing, writing projects:

“Twist of Faith” – the story of Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, illustrates the power of telling your story

“Think No Evil” – the story of the Amish Schoolhouse shooting shows how radical forgiveness can change the world.

http://shawnsmucker.com – his blog’s main purpose is to explore the meaning of identity and purpose, and how important it is to be doing AT LEAST ONE THING you are passionate about. It’s also about book reviews . . . and top ten lists . . . and other silliness . . . but mostly concerned with identity and purpose.

If you’d like to talk to Shawn about having him come to speak at your church or library or community center or book club about these topics, just contact him at [email protected]

Happy story-telling!”

_ _ _

We had definitely stayed too long. 9:00pm. By the time we trudged out to our car, carrying our four kids one by one, six fresh inches of heavy snow hid it from the night. And those six fresh inches had fallen on top of the three or four that had arrived during the day.

We had trouble getting out of our friend’s driveway, and that was downhill.

Once on the road, I squinted through the blowing storm, trying to follow the lone set of tire tracks of the car that had passed that way before us. Ditches waited on either side to swallow us whole. We arrived at the last hill before our driveway – there is a downhill stretch, then a drive through the valley, then the steep uphill climb, about a half mile long.

“Okay,” I muttered. “Here we go.”

* * * * *

We drove down the hill, through the straight, constantly trying to maintain control of the car as it plowed through the snow. Our first attempt left our van wheel’s spinning, about one hundred yards from the crest of the hill. A man wielded a snowblower in his driveway, directly beside where we had stopped, wheels still spinning.

“You might want to try another way,” he shouted.

“There is no other way,” I shouted back through my opened window. “We live right over there.”

He shrugged, went back to snowblowing his driveway. At night. A flash of lightning, followed by a distant growl of thunder. It was all very surreal.

* * * * *

We backed all the way down, slowly, trying not to slide off the road.

Then another go. Another race for the top of the hill. We passed the man with the snowblower. We stopped fifty yards from the crest of the hill.

“At least we’re getting further each time,” Maile said, trying to sound optimistic, not succeeding. The kids started to cry.

“One more time,” I said, beginning the long, slow, backward descent.

* * * * *

This time I drove as fast as I could down the hill, flew through the valley, skimming over the snow. We hit the hill.

“We’re never going to make it,” I said, tense from all that squinting and driving.

We started spinning right where the last try had gotten us. I stopped the van in the middle of the road.

“I’m going to try to push,” I said. Maile slid over into the driver’s seat. It seemed like a ridiculous idea. I started pushing.

Let me clarify something – I am 165 pounds of skin and bone. I am a writer – if typing would have gotten us up that hill, then I could understand why the van might move. But I kept slipping, couldn’t push very well. What I’m trying to say is that I have no idea why the van started moving. I think it’s because it was so close, right on the edge, and all it needed was the slightest lessening of a load, the merest hint of a push.

* * * * *

Maybe your road looks impassable. Maybe it’s the road being traveled by one of your friends. Maybe pushing the boulder up the hill, in the snow, on an icy, snowy road, seems like a ridiculous thing to try.

You might as well give it a shot.

Get out and start pushing.

That smallest of forces might be what it takes to get you, or your friend, over the crest of the hill.

To get home.

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Comments 2

  1. Thanks for the reminder, Shawn, and for the blog, Brenda.

  2. Love this imagery of never giving up, but instead to push when things seem stuck … one never knows how close to the top they might be.

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