“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne
Today I walked. I mean I really walked! Outside…for a long time as the sun was just beginning to embrace a new day.
I walked because of an invitation from someone this past week. She said to me “Come and walk with us” and then told me about the group she walks with. She told me the time and place to meet. Something about her invitation reminded me of Paul’s invitation to the lame man in the 14th Chapter of Acts: “…Stand upright on your feet and walk.” But as soon as my friend issued her invitation my inside gargoyles got busy with their discouraging voices. “It’s too early! It’s too far! You’re too old! You’re too busy! What if it’s too hot, cold, rainy, snowy, storming, freezing,” and on and on and on went the chorus inside my head. But my voice (and my faith) responded, “OK, I will see you there.” I thought again about the lame man’s response to Paul’s command. The scripture tells us “he leapt and walked.” I knew my response was very different. No, I wasn’t leaping at this opportunity to walk with a friend and to meet some people in my community. Last night, as I set my alarm to go off at “way-too-early” o’clock I reminded myself that I could always hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. It would not matter if I chose not to go.
But something amazing happened! I woke up twenty minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I mean I REALLY woke up! Wide awake…and ready to go. I think my gargoyles must have still been sleeping because there was no inner discouragement or negativity. I was dressed and out the door with coffee in hand just as a sliver of sun peeked over the mountain. I paused to take in the cool air and dawning light, offering a praise prayer for this moment of joy before continuing on to the meeting place.
This morning, only one other walker came…someone I did not know. After some brief introductions we set out on our journey together. She led the way as our conversation flowed and our feet strolled along paths strewn with autumn leaves. We talked and walked. We talked about our families and homes. We talked about our community. And we talked about our faith and love of God’s Word. I learned from my new friend a new way of making scripture alive by telling the sacred stories as if they were my very own. And I was reminded that we all share similar struggles and joys along this journey of life. All that in a single morning walk in autumn!
As we returned to our cars and shared good-byes I thought of a quote by Karen Kimsey-House in her book Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead. “When someone is walking beside us, we have more courage to walk into the unknown and to risk the dark and messy places in our journey.” As these words passed through my mind I silently offered a prayer of gratitude for my new friend and sister in Christ AND for the lame man’s example of leaping and walking by faith at Paul’s invitation.
This evening as the sun has traveled throughout its course and is sending out it’s last rays of the day I am reflecting on that sweet, simple invitation to walk. I am glad to have been invited. I am also glad for Christ’s invitation to come and walk with Him. My prayer is that in the coming days I will be wide awake and ready for opportunities to pass along the invitation to “walk in love, as Christ has loved us.” (Ephesians 5:2). Whether that invitation is to share a morning moment or a lifetime of discipleship may it bring the renewal of spirit of a fresh, cool autumn dawn.
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir
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