Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what???? I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along. The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that. Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!
Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud. The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees. Are we ever going to get out?
Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there. So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom. Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well). No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.
Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily. I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud. My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire. So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked. One foot flipflopped one foot free. The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand! The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.
Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in. To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom. Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again.
Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away. I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage. I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.