A slightly rusted sled filled with pockmarks of the life it has seen, of the runs it has already taken. Not unlike the ride you are embarking on as a Dad. So what might you look for? What can you expect to find?
You will find yourself taking hold of the rope and pulling the sled behind you. A deliberate walk that leads to the top. There you will pause and with a catching of your breath... get a running start, hop on and ride it out with reckless abandon…. only to discover “Uh oh, I’m going too fast.”
But you are not alone; there is much that accompanies you. Sounds of the snow and ice against the metal edges. The feel of every cragged bump beneath you. Cold air gets colder the faster you go. Dragging your feet when you desperately need to slow down. “Sprag...sprag!”
I was intentional about not restoring this sled to pristine condition. Rust, scratches and even scars in the wood remain. Still, some things need attention. You will find as a Dad, yet still a husband, they often do. A new rope knotted into place. Runners sanded, waxed, and polished. Once, twice, and even more, building up each hazy coat like a layer of prayer. You can still see the marks clearly, yet softened with time.
When you become a Dad, you don’t enter in as the newborn child does. You have rust. You yourself have marks of the life you have already remembered and lived. They are not flaws, but little ways of showing you that it is not about perfection but more about loving in ways you never fathomed.
My hope is that the gift of the sled is a reminder that some things get put away for a season, yet are not forgotten. It is how we learn to navigate those countless runs down a familiar hill and just maybe what teaches us about the new ones unseen ahead. Being a Dad is indeed about things set aside and then brought out again. To be sanded...waxed...with yet another layer.
It is something a Dad learns to do...for the rest...of his life.
Written for Ed Raught as he looked toward becoming a Dad - January 2017 Jeff Raught
He was given a sled from my childhood as this was read to him.