I have a confession to make. I have not sat down to blog in the last three weeks! NOR have I been diligent in taking daily walks.
“Walking itself is a cognitive act. The more I hike, the more I find my words,” said Mary Kay Baum, a courageous woman I met recently with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I was attending her inspirational talk as a reporter and taking down her words, so I could write an article about her. How true about the cognitive power of walking! How often do we think of hiking, or biking, or ballroom dancing, or any kind of exercise for that matter, as a cognitive act? Yet, it is employing our mental faculties. And so often as a writer, I find that when I’m walking, then the words come.
This fall, I’ve gotten the chance to hike several times on wooded trails with friends. We call these excursions Emmaus Hikes because we use it as a time to reflect on the Scriptures and pray with each other, as well as to explore and appreciate God’s breathtaking creation. Last week, we trekked over a carpet of gold, leaves of the most lustrous golden hue, under the arches of a wooded cathedral. We followed a trail beside a running creek that gurgled as it fell over grey rocks and flowed on its course. We walked through a field of prairie grass with purple wild flowers. We moved within this still setting of tranquility.
A different experience with nature happened to me last month. I went to Lakeside Park alone and sat down on a rock by the edge of the largest lake in Wisconsin. Rather than being in the cloister of the woods with the companionship of friends, here I was out in the open air with the lake stretched out so deep and wide before me. This time the wind was stirring up the water and forcing it to come crashing against the rocks. Nature’s commotion seemed to aptly express the emotions in my heart that day. And in the wild roughness of the wind and water, my only companion was a forlorn fisherman, who kept moving along the rocks in search of a lucrative spot. Seemed he was as restless as my heart, though I didn’t move. The cut in the chill autumn breeze kissed my face. It was a brisk beauty, wild and free, rough and crashing. And as I sat there, my frantic heart found rescue and peace. I related with the duck, bobbing up and down on the water, being pushed along by forces greater than it, which it hardly understood. I became filled with awe of how small I was and great I am at the same time. Here was this little writer, this broken seeker, on the rocks being swept up into God’s awesome creation. How wonderful are the works of your Hands, O God! And who am I to tell of them? The rhythm of the waves, rough as they were, calmed my heart.
I have walked the park with many people. I have sat by the water’s edge with different friends. And I’ve learned that not everyone reacts the same way. While one person walks with deliberate step and purpose, another walks leisurely, savoring the moment. While one walks to conquer, another walks to be conquered–by beauty, by nature, by conversation and by nature’s romance. Myself, I walk to be conquered. The words come as I breathe in deeply and reflectively of the larger purpose through which I trek.
It’s good to be back.