☕️ On Walking

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

From the mouths of children…

Fall has arrived all golden and cold.

On this particular day leaden skies and the bluster and bite of a north wind precipitated dressing double-double and foraging for gloves and a toque before heading out for my evening exercise routine.

I was almost home again, head down into the wind, when I encountered a boy out walking his dog. The dog eyed me with curiosity from across the street, and so did the boy. He was wearing a light-weight hoodie, hood-up mode, and held the dog’s leash in bare hands.

The boy seemed to say something to me, but I couldn’t quite make it out (probably because my ears were fully swaddled). He repeated it, a little louder.

“It sure is nice and hot today!”

Oh really? Well, sure, why not?

“Why yes. Yes indeed. It sure is!” I played along.

“Just look at the beautiful sunny sky!” he continued, gesturing towards the mass of grey hovering above us.

“Isn’t it lovely? I hope you remembered sunscreen.”

“Sunscreen?” He chuckled. “Why yes. Yes indeed. I put lots on!”

And so we continued in opposite directions, both of us resisting the newness of cold in our own way.

Both of us with hearts warmed by a playful, imaginative interaction.

Let’s do more of this, world.

22. Doxology 2

To the Faithful One who caused the sun to rise…

and shine bone-penetrating afternoon warmth
on friends whose hands cradle cups of hot tea
while conversations steep in grace and hope
and broken-hearts-still-healing drink whole-heartedly
the reminders to faithfully pursue truth and trust…

be all glory and praise, honour and majesty.

Amen.

Reclaiming the Kitchen Table

I just did a search on Pinterest for kitchen tables. No shortage of images here – everything from rustic worn farmhouse tables (totally ‘in’ right now) to elegantly decorated masterpieces (seasonally appropriate, of course) to instructions on how to paint, build, refurbish, or repurpose them as flowerbeds or doormats – well, maybe not those last two, but you know Pinterest – it’s not impossible.

NOT ONE of these images included any people at the tables.  I found that profoundly interesting.

I have recently had two very un-Pinterest-Perfect experiences with kitchen tables.

The first involved a well-used oval oak pedestal table with a veneer top badly in need of refinishing but easily disguised with placemats. There were people at this table – five adults besides myself, empty-nesters realizing that the Freedom 55  thing was never more than an ad gimmick. There was food, too – a potluck-style prime rib dinner. And candles.

The second involved a large rectangular table, quite new, with white cushioned chairs. It was a table worthy of Pinterest for sure, except for the fact that it also had people around it, munching on mozzarella poppers (with or without jalapeño) and pretzel chips- five adults besides myself, ex-teens realizing that the adulting ‘thing’ is actually harder than it looked. No candles.

Other than the food, which is quite common at most tables, there were other things being served at both of these tables: memories and ‘catch-ups,’ laughter and possible puns, comfortable conversations flowing from shared pasts now reclaimed to fortify the present. Interspersed with and undergirding all of the light-hearted camaraderie were the real reasons why these kitchen-table scenarios were beyond Pinterest-worthy of recognition.

At each table, every single person regardless of age, occupation, gender or hair-colour, brought something more: heaping containers of grief and confusion next to the pretzels, various bowls laden with hurt and discouragement surrounding the jar of sour cream for the baked potatoes. This is where the real feasts took place – not to gorge on the bitterness of these dishes, but to come together and season them liberally with honesty and genuine listening and caring and loving and fresh insights and perspectives, so that when we finally step away from the table a sweetness lingers long and deep. That the conversations spill over with tears or overflow into the living rooms only enhances the feast.

May they continue to spill and overflow into our lives – those spaces we literally and figuratively inhabit each day.

May we reclaim our kitchen tables for this kind of open, honest, searching, burden-sharing, praying-caring feasting that nourishes lives that are too often starving for purpose and clarity and hope.

May we sit around our tables and truly see and hear one another above the noise of daily living, the lies of depression and loneliness, the aching of loss and discouragement.

May we unapologetically fill our tables with the messiness of life because we care more about each other than some ideal of perfection; we are doing life together and Pinterest Fail episodes come with the territory.  We’re okay with that.

May our tables become places where grace is lived, extended, and embraced, not just said before a meal.

Let’s reclaim our kitchen tables for conversations that truly matter.