I’m walking to yoga class. It’s not far, maybe half a mile. I’ve left enough time. No rush.
Coming ’round the bend, a car slows and the driver peers out the window. I know her from yoga class. She’s offering me a ride, which I decline. She continues along her way and I along mine.
Ahead of me, I see another classmate exiting her house and striding along the sidewalk. See? Another walker, plenty of time… but she is quickly pulling away, must not have seen me, must be in a hurry, may be in a mood.
Oh but…Look up at the cotton white clouds that decorate Carolina blue skies. There, the egret stands in the tall shore grasses. Sweet lily pads wave at me as I cross the bridge, a ruddy duck floats among them. Is that a heron just flying overhead? Of course, there are those noisy black ravens, cawing, cawing and oh my, the squawk, the shudder, the screech of those hilarious Sandhill Cranes, always in two’s. Keep away from our nest!
I arrive at yoga, find a spot and settle in on my mat. After class I thank my neighbor who had offered the ride. “I like to walk,” I tell her, hoping she’s not offended.
“Oh, I like to walk, too,” she says. “Three times everyday. We do our 10,000 steps.”
Is this what walking is now? To be quantified, measured, and recorded? Have we squeezed out all the juice and found the pulp sour but good for us? Oh, if we could only see ourselves, see in ourselves, to see for ourselves all the signs and wonders and magnificent gifts at our very door step.
Oh, the places we’d go if we realized the places we are.
After three long days of sitting in scientific meetings telling me Americans don’t get enough exercise, I skip out the front door of the convention center and into a city I don’t know and turn right. Weaving my way around pedestrians, past store fronts, around tree stumps, over uneven cobblestones, I swing wide to navigate past a woman walking her dog.
Smitten, of course, it’s a sweet old dog, I pause to greet the lumbering black and white beast and smile at his owner who is gamely trying to pull her charge along. He’s being a bit contrary, ambling begrudgingly despite his master’s prodding.
The woman looks at me and back at the dog. “See?” the woman says nodding in my direction,”She’s sporty. We all need our exercise.”
I’m sporty, apparently, because I go for a brisk walk in sneakers and track pants. I speak exercise to those I pass, not in a ‘you should be’ way but a ‘don’t you wanna?’ way. This woman and I have never met, but one look tells her a lot and speaks even more.
Oh, the irony, as there are thousands of sport science experts just around the corner at the convention center, presenting their findings, debating the details, and lamenting the sad state of the health and fitness of the people in their communities. Ah, progress marches on and science with it. Knowledge is powerful, but what about the power of practice?
If we walk the walk, words are optional.
When do we outgrow our smallness? I mean the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets and the grains of sand and the…well, the earth and everything about it dwarfs us. A constant reminder of our unimportance in the scheme of things.
When do we see ourselves big? grown? fully mature? like God sees us with His expansive vision. God, who has every right to dismiss us or even accidentally step on us or overlook us, but doesn’t. He sees all of us – circumstances, hopes, dreams, suffering, hardship – on the big screen. He expands us to God-sizing.
The world says, Act your size. You’re nothing. Sit down and shut up.
God says, You’re the most important thing. Stand up and speak up.
So many are afraid of getting called on or getting called up. We cower in our seats remembering the second grade when we prayed not to be exposed for the answer we didn’t know or the homework we didn’t do. We recall, only too completely, the shame of being summoned to the teacher’s desk to be admonished for our poor behavior or our poor performance.
And what of the alphabetical firing squad? Rat-a-tatting through the roll. Waiting our turn, our hearts jumping into our throats, our minds working overtime racing through the facts and figures. Will I be ready when she calls on me? Competitive academics extracts a great price; no wonder we are afraid of standing up.
Much better to be small, stay out of the way and let the Giants, the over-achievers, and the smart kids, fight it out. But God says no. We are to stand when we’re ready to walk without falling. When we can stand without pushing off and without looking down. Because the fear of heights surely would kill us. Certainly it would stop us dead in our tracks.
So we spend our whole lives learning to walk.
We tip and lean and race our way to Momma.
We trip and fall over our own two feet at the dance.
We stumble over our gown.
We stagger under the weight of demands.
We hoist ourselves up under pressure.
We hang on for dear life
until we’re rescued.
We reach up and take the hands extended to us and
We are lowered, softly and gently to find our footing.
And we stand, without looking around, or looking down, or even looking behind, but only looking ahead, and we take our first step.
Come to me, my beloved Child.
With no fear and no hesitation, we come running.