If you want the short and more visual version of this post, take a look at this link:
Last week’s post ended with the lovely image of us all being beautiful inside, like bright shining diamondy points of light. The quote by Thomas Merton delighted me; it meshes beautifully with a book study I’ve been following. The Wisdom Jesus emphasizes not only the vertical relationship that we have with the Creator, but also the horizontal relationship with the people around us. It emphasizes that we are all connected and that our image of our Creator just might be too small and inflexible, too vertical (you think, maybe?)
In this book, there’s an emphasis on sitting meditation and centering prayer as a way of connecting with the divine, which has been difficult for me. I’m too restless. So I practice “walking meditation” – trying to be still and listening as I walk in nature.
However, last week I’d read of another way to practice a walking meditation. Maybe purists would scoff at this bend in tradition, but there are no meditation police to arrest you if you do it wrong. The author suggests that I should identify the question, problem or issue that seems to be topmost on my mind and heart. I should articulate that issue, then release it from my mind, and go walking with a heart that’s open to my surroundings. I shouldn’t worry or noodle on the situation: just let it go and walk and see what happens.
My question was pretty simple: “What’s most important today?” There were many things calling me: making and canning applesauce; cleaning the house (ugh); calling some folks I haven’t talked to for a while; writing a new blog. And those were the easy questions; the big picture question was about my “calling”, about the way to use whatever gifts and talents I had for the greater good. A soul friend had been challenging me, saying, “You can do more.” Was I being called to “more”? And if so, what would that look like?
So I formulated the question and then let it go. In the past, I have occasionally had wonderful inspirations that came when walking, so I was hopeful. (Note the word occasionally; most of the time, it’s just a walk in the woods, refreshing, revitalizing, but nothing amazing happens.) Still, this is a great big Creator, with no boundaries, to whom I’d thrown out the question. Maybe I would get a great big lofty answer.
Well. It started out well. With trusty walking stick in hand, I went down the path, across the bridge, onto the trail. As usual, beauty surrounded me. And then voices, squeals, barks came from two children and their mom walking a dog. The children wanted to tell me everything that was happening, what they’d seen, what their names were, and would I like to come over and visit them at their house? Delightful of course: children are beautiful. I smiled and chatted and showed them some painted rocks we’d hidden in the woods over Thanksgiving weekend.
The kids were wide-eyed and ready to look for more. This was just a little interruption in my meditative walking, I reasoned.
I continued my walk, but wouldn’t you know it, there were more dogs; more people, more smiles and hellos. Kind of hard to hear the almighty speaking with so many interruptions. And then an older woman approached me, commenting on my walking stick.
I told her the story about buying it from some Mexican illegals on the Texas side of the Rio Grande River. They had waded across the shallow river to sell their artistic creations to tourists so they could support their families who lived in a tiny, isolated village across the river. When a ranger appeared on the horizon, they were gone in a flash, back across the river in order to avoid being deported. Well, that was the beginning of another conversation, not as pleasant as the one with the children, and much more one-sided. This woman was all over the map with her strongly-held opinions; she let me know in no uncertain terms that the earth was the Lord’s and the people thereof, but they’d better come into to our country legally. And it was so sad that little ones went to bed hungry and unsafe. And Canada was a wonderful place to live, but not everyone was welcome. And more and more... My job: listen and nod, not very gracefully. I’m sure she could read my body language.
After that, I gave up the meditative part of my walking. I met fishermen fishing in the river; a whole group of schoolchildren enjoying the playground; a young couple with their newborn baby having a session with a photographer, and a man who also commented on my walking stick: “Now there’s a stick you can depend on – not like those flimsy little plastic balancing rods people are using nowadays.”
As I trundled back to the house, I wondered what I was supposed to do with all these varied experiences. I stopped to take a photo: the sun was shining through the leaves of the Katsura tree so beautifully. The sun, shining like a many-faceted diamond ...
Oh. Aha. Right. People shining like diamonds, who'd been put on my walking path so I could be my diamondy self, and we could shine together to light up the world. Interesting people, nervous people, opinionated people, joyful people, some reflecting light so easily, and others hiding their lights inside. And what about me? Where did I fit into that picture?
I’d asked, “What’s most important for today?” and I’d gotten an answer. I think my diamondy self needs a touch-up.
Here’s a lovely tribute to beautiful people ...
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