Winter Walk

Last Friday, Pure Luck and I went out to walk the dogs together. When he’s in town, he takes the bulk of the responsibility for them. He’s sort of the Stay at Home Dog Daddy. So on my “weekend,” I try to be a good Working Outside the Home Dog Mommy and go walking with them.

In the winter, it is sometimes challenging.

You may recall that Pure Luck’s nickname is not just an everyday nickname, but his trail name from the days and months he spent thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2000. His southbound hike ended on December 21st, in the snowy Georgia mountains. The man knows how to hike over just about anything.

I fall down sometimes in my own driveway, which is flat.

On Friday, the weather was unseasonably warm, which meant that in exposed areas the snow has largely melted. But in the woods, it is a different matter. Large patches have melted a bit, then refrozen, especially on paths that are moderately traveled. Like the path we took on Friday.

City By the Sea has a lovely system of beautifully maintained trails. Except that they don’t sand them like the streets. We took a trail along Pretty Pretty River, headed toward some picturesque falls.

It was a little icy.

I have a little thing about—okay, I have a bit of a complex about—well, you might even say I’m a little neurotic about being clumsy. It goes back to childhood. I’m pretty clear that I’m not graceful, and anytime I have to use clever footwork, whether it’s for dancing or hiking or in an exercise class, I have the potential to get very upset about not being perfect. I feel my cheeks getting hot and my adrenaline surges and I just generally feel like the world’s biggest loser ever.

It doesn’t help to be hiking or walking with someone who is expert and whose immense height (6’4” to my 5’ and a fraction of an inch) means it is hard for me to follow exactly in his footsteps. The trail to the falls is four-tenths of a mile of really pretty gentle ups and downs, but with the addition of ice, it seemed treacherous.

The time came when we were going down a small hill to a little bridge, and I just could not figure out where to put my feet. Pure Luck was already down the hill. He could stretch his arms far enough to brace against a tree that I didn’t think I would be able to reach.

The moment of crisis had arrived.

“I don’t know what to do!! I don’t know where to put my feet!! What am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do?!?!!”

(How many times have I prayed something just like that?)

“WHAT DO I DO?!?!!”

He stretched his arm out, the big hand in a blue fleece glove.

“Follow me.”

Jesus said those words to a ragtag group of people all those years ago. “Follow me.” They didn’t know who he was, or where they would be going. Lord knows, they were about as well-equipped for discipleship that first day as I am for walking the icy trails. I took a few spills last Friday, but never when I asked for help. It only happened when I tried to get across a difficult stretch by myself.

(The gospel lection for this week is Mark 1:14-20.)

9 thoughts on “Winter Walk”

  1. The future isn’t exactly clear to me right now, not that that’s news to you or anyone else. I fret over it occasionally. Control, or the illusion of it anyway, is my favorite way of dealing with fear and anxiety. The gift I’ve been given in the past year or so, though, is a new awareness of the uncertainty of discipleship. When I can maintain some semblance of centeredness, I see that the uncertainty is in someways the compass pointing north, assuring me that I’m right where I need to be. It’s counterintuitive, though, but when the uncertainty is real, I’m reminded that certainty, like control, is really little more than an illusion. That doesn’t keep me from craving it though….
    Great post….sounds like you’ve got a good start on this week’s sermon.

  2. It was a good story to go with the text, wasn’t it? I would rather not have had to go flying on the ice to get it, but this is sometimes the price we pay!

  3. It’s a good theme for this particular Sunday, since we have our Annual Meeting and both look back at last year and ahead to the new. Some of us are eager but ill-equipped; others are gifted but resistant. Jonah is the other text, or rather a sliver of Jonah, so that is the direction I am headed.
    Anyone else preaching this week and thinking about these texts?

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