Spirituality, Liturgy and the Tao of Inner Peace
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Through the years my mother and I have walked — a lot, mainly because one or both of us has been fighting the battle of the bulge. Usually, we have set out to lose a little, or a lot of weight, time after time, but as I think about it and take that journey back in my mind I realize my mother and I have gained far more than we ever lost.
As I thought about this blog, I began to think of all the times we have taken up a practice of walking. We have walked the circle that is near our families seventy acres more times than I can count, we have walked the beaches of the gulf hundreds of times, and for a brief time we walked the greenway in Huntsville, when all my mother could do was walk. Each and every time we have walked, we have talked, we talked about life, love, God, successes and failures, and of course how we could make the world a better place if everyone would just listen to US! It was in these walks I learned my mother, like me, was afraid everyone would find out she didn’t know what she was doing!?! What?? This rock of a woman, this brain, this ultimate success that I would never compare to was also afraid? I learned how she became successful, I listened to her issues at work and she listened to mine. We talked about God, and church, and spirituality. She taught me to think outside of convention or what I was told, to find the answers for myself, to not be narrow minded. We talked of what we thought the scriptures meant or the way we should behave or react to the world around us, we argued when we had different beliefs. The beach walks are always especially sacred, seems you can talk more intimately there and the problems of the world don’t seem so big when you realize you are but a speck on the horizon. Which reminds me of a lesson she taught me there once, I remember her saying when I was a young woman, one day you will look back and see that this was just a tiny clothes pin on a very long clothes line of life. She taught me perspective. Then there were the 4 mile walks on the greenway, after my father left and my mother was in shambles. We would meet and walk fiercely for exactly one hour — 4 miles– never fail, day after day, that’s what kept her from going over the edge. We were both in good shape at that time, as I remember….only time in our lives both thin at the same time, too bad it was not the right circumstances to enjoy the momentous thinness.
It was one of our closest times, the paradigm had shifted. I was holding her up, I was learning her as a woman, a woman who had lost love, she was once again human and not some “mother” that a child holds on a pedestal never to be real. I believe there is something beyond us in the walk, there is a working out of joint and muscles but also the mind, the rhythmic pace of the feet over and over just one more step, one more step. The stress, the tension, the problems of the day easing up with each step. That is true for the walks together and alone, alone with our creator talking out the day, listening, meditating on where we want to be. For those of us like me and my mother we have so many thoughts, so many stressors, and this seems to be the unwinding. I suppose looking back I realize that there have been hours of endless therapy there with my mother and how wonderful it has been. Sometimes we fought and saw things in different ways, but we had to finish the path together, and isn’t that like our spiritual path?
We fight the ways we need to change or we think “oh why bother” when life if throwing us lemons, but if we are faithful, and just keep on the walk we are rewarded.
Paul says it best “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Heb. 12:1 We must run that race, our race, and that cloud of witnesses sometimes is not in some far off cloud but right beside us, cheering us on, empathizing with us, holding us up. I have learned on my many walks with my mother that I am not alone, that the issues I have she has had as well, I have learned we can make it together. Now that I am older and my mother is retired we have started to walk again, seeing my grandmother in the end of her life makes me think of our own borrowed time together. The walks mean so much more now than ever as I realize she won’t be here forever to go over all my hard decisions in life, to give parental guidance, to make me laugh when I am taking things way to seriously. I cherish every walk, every word, I try my best not to miss one moment for these are the most precious moments. This is in part from my spiritual growth to “be” exactly where I am – not tomorrow or yesterday but today to soak in the sounds the smells the laughter. We walk to the top of the hill and see the rolling pastures, the cows curiously looking at these two jabbering women and I love it all. I let it all soak in and try to commit these times to my permanent memory.
All the classes I have taken and all the books I have read can never compare to the lessons I have learned on walks with my mother.
I encourage you to take a walk, and maybe it will be with your mother, or father or best friend, take it all in and live in today.