Thursday, June 30, 2005

Just a Closer Walk...

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with GOD: those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive; it is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, and because GOD would have us. Were I a preacher, I should above all other things preach the practice of the presence of GOD; and were I a director, I should advise all the world to do it: so necessary do I think it, and so easy too. -- Brother Lawrence

I was out for a walk with God tonight.

Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. Part of it is in response to my normally laid-back physician’s baleful glare and sober threats of impending medication when she got the results back from my last cholesterol test. Part of it has to do with – and this is surely proof of the Almighty’s rollicking sense of humor – my being tapped to serve on my workplace’s employee wellness committee, creating a certain incentive to “walk the talk,” literally.

So I’ve gotten back in the habit of taking an evening walk whenever the weather permits. I’m aided in this endeavor by living on a lake surrounded by pleasantly meandering streets, some of them on fairly challenging inclines that provide an extra cardio workout. And – I will confess – I am an incredibly nosy neighbor, so I like to see what’s going on in the ‘hood; who is building what (like Possum Lake in “The Red Green Show,” there is is a constant chainsaw whine going on in our neck of the woods); which summer people are up for the week; and a neighbor’s interesting, if illegal, Araucana chicken operation housed in a cute little Dutch shed in the back yard. (Shhh...don't tell the township zoning board -- I want pastel eggs.)

Anyhow, in the midst of all this self-improvement and self-amusement, I find something else going on; it seems that God is rather fond of a brisk jaunt too, so we’ve been spending more time together. Not that we do a lot of talking; we’re just happy to be in one another’s presence. And I am finding that simply enjoying the presence of God is helping me overcome my tendency to engage in extemporaneous prayertime blabbiness and “I want a pony” petitions. Speaking without words; listening without speaking; that's how it is between us, walking around the lake together.

It’s nice, sometimes, to just hang out with God.

The road goes ever onward... Posted by Picasa


bls said...

I know what you mean. I started running during my second year in A.A., and used to pray while I was huffing and puffing down these long country roads I favored.

"Help me" - puff, puff - "to stay sober" - puff, puff - "today. Thy will" - puff, puff - "not mine" - puff, puff - "be done."

It really was the best time I spent with God each week, no question. I can't run anymore, sadly, but walks in the hills with my dog are a pretty fine second best.

I want a pony, too....

bls said...

(Actually, it wasn't during my second year at all. It was during about my ninth.

Sorry! Some sort of weird mental time warp just happened there. Of course, nobody cares but me....

;-) )

LutheranChik said...

Our minds have a habit of doing funny stuff like that...I was in Cadillac last weekend, a place I haven't lived in in well over a decade, and it kept feeling as if I'd only left a couple of years ago...I'd be driving around, thinking, "Well, whatever happened to this place?..." and then it hit me, "Well, duh...things change in 15 years!"

I do like walking in the great outdoors, though. This winter I'd do half-hour walks in the gym of our local community center, and it just wasn't the same. I'm going to have to just invest in some better-insulated winterwear and tough it out this year when it gets cold, or else I'm going to get out of the habit. (I do, however, possess snowshoes...traditional, THERE's a workout, with huffing and puffing. Praying while snowshoeing, I'm not sure I could get past the "Help....";-))

Andy said...

I'm convinced that evening walks should be considered right up there with prayer and fasting as vital spiritual practices. It has done wonders for me as well.

Tom in Ontario said...

I like to walk. Don't do it as often as I ought (ought for the cholesterol and bp benefits). Can't say that it's ever very prayerful because I've always got at least one of my 4 kids and maybe my wife along. The 7 year old boy never shuts up. But I like being with them. They lift my spirit too.

Tom in Ontario said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LutheranChik said...

Tom: You should try walking with an elderly 9-pound Maltese who, maybe 50 yards from home, suddenly puts on the brakes (it's amazing how strong a li'l foofy dog can be) and refuses to go any farther, so that you have to carry him. (I only take the dog for a walk after taking my "real" walk.;-)) I try to think of it as weight training.;-)

mild-mannered blogger said...

thanks for the comment, LutheranChik. i discovered your blog here earlier this week, and i've been checking in every since. (ever think of syndicating?) thanks for blogging.

can't say i've been doing alot of walking with God. but i have been looking for God more often lately as i go though my day. in a way that seems similar to what ya'll are talking about. where God's been meeting me has been less in retreat and quietude and more during the bustle and chaos of my day, in suprising interactions with other people. and i've found that this "looking for God" has made me more open and receptive to other's "interruptions" in my day.

for example, yesterday. i am a lutheran seminarian on internship, and i wear my clergy collar almost all the time. i was on my way into visit the daughter/sister of congregation members at the mental hospital in town. as i approached, i saw five "hard luck" guys sitting on the bench by the entrance, smoking and talking. these were men with dark in-the-sun-all-day tans, with rough hands and dirt under their fingernails, wearing old, beat up ball caps with their shirts unbuttoned. one man wasn't wearing a shirt; he's the one who said, "hi, father" when i reached them.

"Hi," i replied. And I found myself slowing. "How are you guys today?" I heard myself saying.

"Well my friend here could use some prayer, Father," the same man said, indicating the dark-haired and mustached man nearest to where I had stopped.

"Oh yeah?" I asked. "Right now?"


I crouched down beside the dark-haired man. He was sitting hunched over, with his elbows on his knees, a cigarette in his left hand. "What's going on?" I asked. "What do you want prayer for?"

He hesitated, to speak and to look at me. "My life," he half-mumbled. He shifted in his seat. "My life, that I will stay on the right path."

"Okay," I said. "Let's pray." All the guys folded their hands and closed their eyes. When I prayed the right words just flowed. It was a fairly short one.

After I finished, the dark-haired man looked me in the eye. His had teared up. "Thank you," he said. Rarely have those words sounded so authentically grateful as his did.

As I stood, the shirtless man spoke up again. "Father, while you're here, I just want to say something. This man here"--he indicated an african-american man with glasses who was sitting at the opposite end of the bench--"he's a great man, Father. He's taught me alot and helped me, and I just wanted to let you know that."

The african-american man nodded modestly, and I was blown away by the whole experience.

Walking away, I was in awe. God was sitting on that bench with those men, smoking and dancing in their conversation. And God had blessed me by inviting me onto that holy ground in the shade outside the mental hospital to see God moving powerfully. Holy cow.

So, that's what reading ya'lls comments reminded me of. And who knew I felt so chatty?

Thanks for this holy ground.

LutheranChik said...

MMB: Your story made me all teary. Thanks so much for sharing. And I hope you'll keep coming back here.

LutheranChik said...

And just an addendum...I've had some equivocal experiences with the mentally ill -- some really negative, scary ones (in some cases with a family member), but other very positive ones. In the course of my work I have gotten to know two older women with mental health issues, and I just love them...half the time I'd rather hang out with them than with the supposedly sane people.;-)

mild-mannered blogger said...

thanks, LC. i will keep coming back.

and although i've not had much experience with people with mental illness, i can understand the impulse to want to be with "abnormal" people. i find freed to be who/whatever i am when i am with people who are unwilling or unable to be anything but who they really are, in all their strangeness and beauty. we "normal" people have a lot to learn.