Walking is my spiritual discipline. It helps me turn my brain off. It clears my mind so that I can hear God speak to me. And God does - through nature, through my music, through my breath. When I turn the corner into the park about a mile from my house and I hear the crunch of the gravel trail under my feet, I know I have entered my sanctuary. Trees, shade, rocks, dappled sunlight along the trail - all of it draws me closer to God.
Most days, I catch a glimpse of a deer (or two or three). Sometimes they stare straight at me. We lock our gazes for a few brief moments, just long enough to acknowledge each other’s presence on the planet. And then, without warning, their elegant bodies take flight and they gently glide away. It is exhilarating!
This week, I had a surprise encounter on one of my walks. As I turned the corner into the park and heard the crunch of the gravel trail under my feet, there she was. A brightly colored snake slowly slithering from one side of the path to the other. I stopped in my tracks.
My heart raced as I tried to remember the poem from my childhood “red and black friend of jack - red and yellow kill a fellow.” This snake was red and yellow. I took a step backward and I watched as the coral snake went on her way. I gave her her space. I acknowledged her power and I respected it. (But...I also warned everyone else I saw on the path!)
As I went on about my walk, I began to think. We share the planet with beautiful, gentle, graceful beings like the deer. And we share the planet with venomous, dangerous and still beautiful beings like the coral snake. We share the planet with people who are easy to be with and people who aren’t. We share the planet with viruses that can kill us. And we share the planet with scientists and doctors who can develop vaccines that kill those viruses.
We walk in this world amidst great beauty AND great danger, great love AND great pain. But, where ever our walk takes us, God promises we do not walk alone.
As you walk the planet this week, open your eyes. Look for all the ways Christ is walking with you, in moments of gentleness and beauty and in moments of fear and pain. Let us remember the promise of God in Jesus Christ who says, “Lo, I am with you ALWAYS, even to the ends of the earth,” (Matthew 28:20).
God bless you, friends!
Keep on walking,