I keep walking, but in this week of Lent, I struggle with the attempt. Daylight Savings Time has descended, and morning walks are taken in the quarter light, in which my presbyopic eyes can’t always tell what the shapes and outlines mean; someone is nearly on top of me before I recognize that I need to adjust my place on the sidewalk; the colors are not visible; things that are sources of beauty in the light of the sun feel ominous in the great grayness.
And I feel like a four year old wanting to yell out, “Are we there yet?” I have deliberately not created a program to be measured by time, speed or heart rate. The commitment was simply to walk each day no matter what. But shouldn’t it be more fun by now? or shouldn’t there be results that I can see? lost weight? more stamina? shouldn’t I love this more?
“So we are always confident…for we walk by faith, not by sight,” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 5: 6-7. And I ask, faith in what? I can’t always trust my body. Some mornings and evenings its creakiness lets me know exactly how old I am in chronological years. I can’t always trust the sidewalk; almost every morning I walk there is a new disruption due to the gas company, the DWP or renovation, replete with concrete strewn here and there, and metal or wood planks covering the space where repair is happening. I cannot alway believe that the weather is going to surround my walk with a sublime blessing; we are living in a spring that seems wildly unpredictable with temperatures bouncing up and down, winds and rains suddenly descending, separated with picture perfect days of breezy balm. I don’t know what I will find when I open my front door.
So I have to have faith in the Spirit of God who goes with me, no matter what is outside that front door, and I need to trust that the commitment I made to the Holy One is worth continuing, no matter what. Author Jana Riess in her winsome and helpful book, Flunking Sainthood, commenting on Abraham Heschel, talks about the thread in the Hebrew Bible of walking with God: Enoch, Noah, Micah, all walking with God, and Christian writers in the New Testament reminding us that these early walkers were counted as right-doing ones, just their faithful walking, not their wonderful insights or accomplishments. They walked with the Holy.
And so I keep walking, and I remember how earlier intentional walks of faith have brought me where I need to be in my life in the world with God: it was in faith that I walked into marriage all those years ago; it was in faith that I chose to have children, as insecure as I was about my parenting skills; it was in faith that I remained faithful to them, and still do, amidst all the surprises and turns in the road that that calls for. It was in faith that I responded to a call to do to seminary to pursue ordination in the Presbyterian Church, and then to do more work in the area of spiritual formation and direction. There was a time when in faith, like Abraham, I left a call not knowing where I was going, trusting that that was the next right step for me.
It was in that step of faith that I was given this quotation. which is ascribed to many different sources, found in Macrina Wiederkehe’s transformational book, A Tree Full of Angels:
When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take that step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen…There will something solid for us to stand on, or we will be taught to fly.
So, Week 5 of Lent, I am walking you still, in faith, in hope, in love, trusting for eyes to see the place to stand…or even getting ready to put on wings!