Lyn Hartley is an independent educator who lives in the wilds of the Yukon. She tells the story of two skiers crossing a frozen lake at night. Sliding through the snow with flashlights, they came upon a moose fallen through the ice. The enormous creature was stuck shoulder high. It was clear the moose couldn’t get out and they alone couldn’t pull it out. The temperature was dropping. So they stayed through the night and, though the moose resisted, they covered it with their tent; settling in to shine their small lights on its face and on the edges of broken ice, to keep the ice from freezing into shards that would cut the moose. In the morning, when the sun reappeared, they went for help. Together they roped the moose and slowly pulled it to the edge till it could find its own way out.
This is a powerful metaphor for how to listen to and be with those who have fallen through: stay close and keep them warm, resisting the urge to prematurely solve the situation. If nothing can be done, sit with them, resisting the urge to abandon those who seem stuck. Offer your tent and stay with them long enough till the way out presents itself, not forcing a rescue. How I need to hear this. For life is long enough that we will have our turn at falling through and being stuck, and at coming upon the fallen not knowing what to do.
I love how we root in the earth and sprout in the world. I love how I learn from others as we find our original face. I admit that I need everyone when I fall through. I confess that I need to hold nothing back when I come upon you struggling in the hole of your own making. How I need the skill of heart that lets love meet truth like small lights on ice. In the truth of each other, there is a way out.