I don’t take walks by myself anymore. At least, I didn’t for a long time, but maybe that is changing. Yesterday I asked Mr. Glad if he would like to go for a walk, and he quickly answered, “No, you should go for a walk; I am going for a bike ride; and it’s going to be dark soon.”
“But I don’t want to take a walk by myself,” I whined.
“Just do it,” he said simply and authoritatively. “You need to get outside.” I had been away from the house a lot over the last few days — in church, in our church’s new hall setting up our new bookstore, in church again…but out of doors very little.
Oh, why not? I thought, why not just follow my husband’s advice, go for a walk by myself, and start two new trends in 2012? Some time in the last few years I got impatient with walking alone. I don’t like exercise for its own sake; I’m lazy in that department. Walking is time-consuming, and if I walk on the treadmill at the gym I can get a better workout while distracting myself with interesting articles in magazines at the same time.
My memory was not serving me well, I discovered as I set off down the street and on to the bike-and-walking path two blocks away. Walking all by one’s lonesome in the outdoors can serve many purposes, if Getting Things Done is the aim.
I didn’t have my camera last evening, which caused me to remember right away why I don’t burn so many calories when no one is along to keep me moving: I want to stop all too often to examine a flower or new redwood needles, and often to delve more deeply and longer by looking through a lens in order to get another slant.
On this, my first solitary walk of a new year, I particularly noticed the thickly blooming berries on the shrubs that the city must have planted long ago. Every Christmas for 20 years various ones of our family have come here to snip a few branches for decorating the house. Even last week — oops, the week before that — Pearl had taken her children on a walk and returned with a bag full of cedar and redwood branches, and many sprays of berries.
Because I didn’t have my camera, I walked very fast and came home in about 15 minutes, grabbed my pruners and a bag and walked right back to the path. I carried home several branches, and re-supplied some of my tabletop displays with fresh berries to get us through Theophany.
Today my husband and I took a walk together, into the center of town to Starbucks and back — one of our new jaunts together since he retired recently. Later I went by myself once more, down to the path along the creek to snap some photos of those berries that are so striking in the winter.
As I set off I realized that what had seemed like a good use of my time, avoiding these more leisurely walks, has been a missed opportunity. When walking “alone” one is never alone, because God is everywhere present. There are the trees and bushes, the sky and the birds and sometimes friendly strangers walking often beautiful dogs.
The “distractions” of nature and real people are not nearly as diverting from prayer as what I do at the gym, and my strenuous indoor workout turns out to be no substitute for the much more soul-profiting outing that I can otherwise get — and I don’t even have to drive the car.
Whether I’m happy or sad, it’s almost impossible to go walking without remembering my Divine Companion at least part of the time, talking to and listening to Him. I’m thanking God for giving me the idea for one more way to avoid the winter blues.