I went for a walk yesterday. I will admit the main purpose was to get in more steps. Several of the church staff members are on a team, competing with people from across the United States, for the most number of steps over the period of time set for the challenge. While we are all one team, we do see each other’s step count and a little competition between us seems to help keep us going as well!
And so, I went for a walk. For the first time around the park, my head was full of so many things – lots of work things that I need to tend to when I get back from this week of time off, my list of things I still want to do around the house, realizing my list is too long and figuring out the top priorities, what were we going have for dinner. You get the picture: Non-stop thinking, heart rate rising (and not because of the exercise), anxiety and worry rising. I just about gave up after the first lap because I had too much to do.
But, I kept going (remember, I needed to up my step count!). And then I saw them, two trees in full bloom with the most amazing pink blossoms. How could I have missed them? They were right there, along my path. It honestly was like a slap in the face. They were there all along, but my mind was in a hundred different places. I contemplated this for the rest of the lap. What else am I missing because I am not truly present with my family, with friends and co-workers and most importantly with God?
Lap three. I decided to just focus on breathing. I prayed a breath prayer the entire walk. Breathe in “God of all,” breathe out “Quiet my mind.” Breathe in “God of all,” breathe out “Open my heart.” Breathe in “God of all,” breathe out “Quiet my mind.” Breathe in “God of all,” breathe out “Open my heart.”
Lap four. Oh my goodness! So many things to see, hear and smell in this small park that I have missed: a grandmother pitching a baseball to her grandson, a mom walking with her daughter and baby in a stroller, laughter of children on the playground, a treehouse I had never noticed before, amazing bright green of new leaves shooting out of tree branches that have been dormant all winter, a blue jay feather, the cheerful “hello” as I passed a woman walking her dog and a bird building a nest.
Lap five. I literally felt like my heart was overflowing. I felt as if I was breathing deeper than I had for weeks. I felt the energy of the shining sun and imagined God’s energy and love filling the stressed and broken places I had left untended for some time. I felt joy and gratitude that I get to live near this park. I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to our God for breaking through to me.
This morning I came across this quote by Thomas Merton as I was reading some things about Sabbath, and, again, was struck by the power of my walk yesterday:
When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest. When your
imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you. It tells you of its unreality and of
the Reality of God. But when your mind is silent, then the forest suddenly becomes
magnificently real and blazes transparently with the Reality of God.
Solvitur ambulando. It will be solved by walking. We’ve heard it all through Lent. Yesterday I experienced its truth.