A Saturday Caesura
While out on a walk one evening this week, I saw a little girl and her dad at the street corner ahead. She was learning about stop-look-listen before crossing. When they began walking, the dad’s stride was relaxed and casual, solid and sure compared to the skip-bounce tiptoe half-run of the daughter’s effort to keep up. He held her hand, providing an anchor that kept them together even though her child pace could never match his adult one.
As I watched them, I tried to remember if as a child I had ever felt the need to always be half-running just to keep up with the adult world. Even if I didn’t then, I think I do now. . . and it is exhausting.
I had another walking experience this week. It was a long walk, one that generally gets labelled as a hike, but at its core, it was still walking. Once we bushwhacked (a particularly challenging kind of walking) our way into the alpine, we could clearly see the final route to the summit. Striped of their cloak of trees and shrubs, naked mountain ridges can be deceiving, looking either easier or harder than they actually are. To one member of our group, this route looked daunting. She stopped, looked . . . and stayed stopped. Anxiety set in. Then doubt. In the end, the thought of not reaching the summit after working so hard to get this far loosened the fear enough to get her feet moving again.
So we encouraged her and we walked. No skip-bouncing half-running, just steady and sure walking even when the wind whipped around and through us. Look-step. Look-step. I walked and she walked right behind me, not looking left or right or up ahead– just looking at my feet. When I took a step forward on the slope, she stepped right behind me. Anchored this way to possibility rather than fear, she made it to the summit one step at a time across all the space that felt too steep, too rocky, too impossible.
So I’ve been thinking about how we walk through life and who needs us to be steady and sure. About who needs an anchor when the pace is beyond reach and the way seems too much of everything scary and daunting and impossible. The truth? Maybe there is the odd occasion where I am somehow able to be those things for someone else, but mostly (always) I’m the needy one.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24