Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Making the day by walking

I'm spending my Sabbath this week at my mom's place in the country outside McKinney, Texas.  I came up after work yesterday, and because Siri gave me a most circuitous route around Dallas to avoid rush hour traffic, I was able to get to McKinney in time to meet my mother and my brother for dinner at an amazing barbecue restaurant, Hutchins. Such a gift. 

I've had a lot of extra intense things going on at work. I know that sleep, good food, quiet with God, a day each week to cease to work, and walking keep me centered. It's been hot and muggy in Houson, and so I've made it a spiritual practice to take a very early morning walk right as the sun rises most days. It's very hard to get out the door and take those first steps, but it makes all the difference to my day. 

When I'm at my mom's, I like to wake up before she does and make her fresh ground coffee and clean out the dishwasher. It gives her a good start to the day. After I'd done those two tasks this morning, I decided to steal into the room where my brother was still sleeping and get my walking shoes that permanently live at my mom's. 

I was tired and feeling a little blue, if I'm honest. There's a lot weighing on my shoulders now. I knew I needed to go outdoors and walk. I put one foot in front of the other, a prayer line humming in my head:  we make the way by walking. 

I took my phone along in case I saw anything picture worthy. Everywhere I looked I saw plants withering from the August heat. Power lines marred the view. Nothing I wanted to remember. 

I continued to walk. The smell of lavender gently surrounded me. My mother's neighbors have a lavender garden, and though the blooms were past, the perfume remained.  

I walked up a hill as early morning colors began to transform. I saw the little Methodist church at the end of road, and I pondered God leading me on my daily path. 

I passed the tiny cemetery where some of my ancestors are buried. Turning to retrace my steps, I passed the land where my great-greats had built a house over a hundred years ago. I was surrounded by the love of family. 

As I walked back to have coffee and breakfast with my mom, there was a stand of my favorite flower, sunflowers. 

I'd made the way by walking. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Prayer Walking with the Grandboys

The gift of having my son and his wife both able to take some time off from work today!

We started with a feast of Sue's eggs and chocolate chip coconut scones followed by the bonus of FaceTime with my NYC daughter. The family together!

Then we were off for for a ten minute drive to Newberry National Forest to hike the Lava River Cave, a lava-formed cave that's a two mile hike in and out; down 150 steps, and over a combination of flattish sandy path, uneven rocks, and stairs. Pitch black and 42 degrees cold!

I do like to hike, but this trip I came prepared for summer and neighborhood strolls. No hiking stick, no proper footwear, and certainly no cold weather garments.  Remembering that pilgrimage is about surrender with joy, particularly to the unexpected, I was willing to go. What was at hand would have to be enough. 

Which is where the prayer walking began.  Being underground is not my favorite place to be. It's unsettling to be beneath the earth. After prayers for safety for the five us, prayers for peace and, yes, courage for me were next. We did have a two and five year old with us!  With flashlight in one hand to light our path, and a five year old hand in the other, the adventure began. 

I could not let my attention wander. Slippery spots and holes abounded, and I had a precious traveling companion. As I walked, I was reminded again and again and again that this was very truly mindful walking.  No moments to take photos during this mindful hike.  

Half way in, Austin realized he needed to go to the bathroom, so the trip back to earth was a most mindful hurry. I only fell once. 

Outside we enjoyed the sun and snacks and chipmunks frolicking all around. Austin and Jonas learned that if they were very still, the chipmunks would come near. 

I've had such a good visit with my dear family. It's taco Tuesday, and it's cooled off some, and so it's dinner outdoors for the third night in a row. There are chocolate chip cookies still to bake and one more morning to play. 

It so very enough. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday at New Hope

On the fourth day with my family in Oregon, after a little Paddington Bear Movie, bacon and eggs for breakfast, and some playing with new birthday toys, I went my son and his family to church. 

After depositing the boys in Sunday School, and stopping by the coffee bar for beverages, we went to adult worship. The liturgy was reminiscent of the structure of Sunday School in my Baptist growing up days--though definitely more upscale. A prayer, contemporary praise music led by band and song leaders, announcements, more music, a long Bible teaching with practical application, another brief prayer, a final song while a collection was passed, and we were good for the week.  Everything was very well thought out beforehand (from this professional point of view). I like worshipping in places away from home, and I especially love worshipping with my family. 

The boys are napping. We're off to a water venue later.  It's been in the high 90's, and with no air conditioning, I'm reminded of trips to my grandmas' farms in the summer and all we did to stay cool. Fans blowing and blinds drawn during the day, walks to the park taken early before the heat hits, food preparation done without using an oven, sleeping at night with windows open to breezes and cooling air and outside sounds.  It's summer and this is what it's supposed to be like. Thankfully, there aren't the bugs or humidity of Houston. 

My heart is full of gratitude. It is enough.