So I've decided that one of my favorite things to do is go on a walk. Well, actually, I guess I should clarify that statement a little bit. If you think about it, there are a number of different ways and reasons we take one foot and put it in front of the other. More often than not we walk with a purpose. It could be for a simple reason, as in walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water ... or walking to the bathroom to brush your teeth. There are also occasions where a walk is undertaken for a greater purpose. Not too long ago I found myself walking through the mountains of Costa Rica ... for nine hours ... all day ... to visit four churches of four remote villages. Perhaps the "greatest" purpose I've ever seen associated with a walk was when I watched the women of my family cross the finish line after walking 60 miles, over three days, to help the fight against breast cancer.
The point in mentioning all of this is that most walks begin with a purpose. So when I say, "I've decided that one of my favorite things to do is go on a walk," it begs the question as to what sort of walk I would be referring to and the purpose I have been prompted to pursue. Well, it probably goes without saying that I'm not talking about those simple walks that take me from the bedroom to the living room. Nor am I referring to the grueling journey of traversing the Costa Rican landscape and the inevitable exhaustion that ensues. I'm referring to an unexpected richness that emerges when one walks simply for the sake of walking.
Tonight, I returned home after an elaborate excursion at the grocery store. Tomorrow is James' baby dedication at church so we will be hosting friends and family all day after the service. Jennifer has been amazing in her preparation. She is absolutely the best mom ... no doubt. She has worked tirelessly to cultivate a beautiful day tomorrow. But the reason I love all the effort is that she isn't trying to impress our relatives or work on her baking skills, she simply loves our son so much she'll do anything to make his days special. So, my trek to the grocery store held an uncommon amount of pressure. I had a specific list and was given specific instructions to take a pen and "cross things off my list to make sure I actually picked it up and put the item in the basket." I can proudly say I passed this test. So I returned home nearing the hour when James is finishing his late afternoon meal and is teetering on the edge of needing a quick nap before his nightly routine. It's a time of day when the sun begins to descend into the lower half of the west Texas sky and the heat of the afternoon fades into a comfortable coolness. If you looked up trying to locate the clouds, there were few to identify. It was a perfect day. So, I wanted to walk ... and take my son with me.
Before James was born Jennifer and I began to incorporate an evening walk into our daily routine. I guess you could say that our "purpose" was to help with the labor or for exercise, but really, it was just to walk ... nothing more. It quickly turned into one of my favorite times of the day because when we fled the trappings of the home that can steal our attention with laundry, chores and TV shows, we exposed ourselves to a world of simple discovery. All of a sudden we went from living in a house to living in a neighborhood. We went from living on a street to living amongst neighbors. Our eyes shifted from pictures on a screen to the portraits of landscape and the colors that only creation can provide. We went from feeling the regulated temperature of central heating and air to the cool chill of a subtle wind or the comforting warmth of a setting sun. But without a doubt, the greatest discovery was how we magically journeyed from short, sporadic statements of requests and instructions to the enriching depths of authentic communication. It was more than question and answer, it became a revealing of our thoughts, emotions, frustrations and hopes. It quickly became my favorite time of day and the best way to spend some valuable time with my favorite person.
These memories began reemerging just a few weeks ago and we relished that the more recent walks have included a new companion along the way. The conversation remains vibrant and engaging, only now, our gaze continues to look down upon our son taking in the elaborate details of this world for the first time. You can see he is trying to process what this "tree" is all about; or he is trying so hard to discern the noises of the birds flying in the air; the wind that comes and goes intrigues him and he looks in our direction to see if we are making the same discoveries that have him so captivated. We just meet his eyes and smile, we are the only ones that understand he is the greatest display of creation we could ever taken in ... and he has us captivated. So today, I walked down different streets and saw different houses I had yet to discover in our community. I showed my son the first duck that wasn't a cartoon in some book but one that could actually fly, swim ... or walk. I watched him as his eyes slowly grew heavy and eventually closed thereby granting him that much needed nap at this part of his day. And once again, it affirmed why I have grown so fond of these moments.
I guess all I'm trying to say is that there is something to be said for finding that simple thing that can breathe depth into your day. Whenever we discover those moments that can shake us from the monotony of routine or the trappings of desensitization, we would be wise to explore them further. We are often so distracted by thinking about "what is next," be it a daily chore, an event for tomorrow, a project at work, an email we have to send, or anything that might be outlined in our future; we so constantly let our days vanish at such a rapid rate we rarely stop and ask the question, "what is now?" In my recent experience, shedding those sorts of distractions can take us to a place of richness we may not have realized was dying to be discovered and appreciated. Whether it be the subtle beauty of living in this incredibly crafted world, the incredible insight into another person's soul when you finally let conversation run free, or the awe inspiring glimpses of your son taking it all in for the very first time, we are finally knocked over by the power of our current situation ... the simplicity of "now." Perhaps that power is a subtle tasting of the truth that worrying about tomorrow is meaningless ... it has enough troubles of its own. Thinking about all the demands of tomorrow and "what is next" can not add a single hour to your life, rather it often steals your attention from the very life that is waiting for you to discover now. For life is so much more than a check-list, a TV show, a chore or a task at home. That's why I think these moments have become my favorite times of day. I think that's why I have grown to love walking just for the sake of walking. Because in those steps, I seem to see things just a little bit differently. I discover a rich humility that provides an eloquent reminder as to what life is all about.
So here's to walking ...