It’s become a regular part of our lives, the 45 minute loop from our house that takes in Renowned Middle School, the Expo, Adorable Minor League Baseball Field, Red Logo Dairy and a loop around School That Has Seen Many Uses. I’ve walked it late on a spring night and early on a summer morning, and this week I walked it in the snow.
This path, with some variations, has been the opening of a new way in my life. Last spring I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, no one else could, and I asked my husband if he would walk with me. Now, you have to understand, I am a woman who didn’t even own a pair of walking shoes, and he is a man who through-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I am a mere 5 feet tall, and he is around 11—well, all right, he’s 6’4”. But I hope you can see that as walking partners we are not the best match in the world. And when we began in May, I was in poor shape, with the wind for a 15 minute stroll on our nearest residential streets. It took me a while to work up to more.
Wednesday afternoon, we took the path in reverse, trying to calculate which part of our walk needed to occur in daylight, and which would have adequate illumination as the sun set. These days are short, so short, and then the darkness closes over us.
Long ago, a poet and prophet named Isaiah wrote,
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
As we tromped over unplowed corners, past Christmas trees for sale, over railroad tracks, as I trotted to keep up and realized how much harder this walk is in the snow, I thought of Isaiah.
While it was still light, we headed down a long side street, and I said, “Time goes by so quickly.”
“What made you think of that?”
“We’re passing the Water District, and I was thinking about how short the time between bills seems to be!”
“Ah, I thought you were going to say something more profound.”
Apparently he still doesn’t understand that preachers are always looking for the profundity in the light bill.
We crossed the street and walked past the Cute Outdoor City Pool, where my children learned to swim, sort of, all of them reluctantly. We walked along beside the playing field. The sidewalk had been plowed by the city, and I noticed how the cleared section seemed to narrow in the distance, like the darkening sky, the shortening days, the waning year. Where will the path take me in the coming year? Isaiah paints a picture of a world transformed. What is my part in bringing about new highways of the spirit? Will I know the glory of the Lord when I see it?
Meanwhile, we make the turn to walk toward St. J Street. The subject turns from theology to politics. We will walk this way again, and the days will grow longer, and the nights will grow shorter. But when will the rough places be a plain?
The year rolls by, so much more rapidly than it did when I was 26 or 36. Some things do change. I can walk this path more quickly, even in boots, even through the snow and the slush, even over the icy patches. As Christmas approaches, I am mindful that our faith story is all about embodiment, the birth of God in human form. My feet and legs, my heart and lungs, carry me forward, enable me to see a way, and allow me to hope for a time when all people shall see it together.