I grew up in rural America, complete with brick streets, a single stoplight, and a 30 mile drive to the nearest WalMart. When I was a teenager, I would take walks to clear my head from all the stress of being 15. My town was only a mile wide by a mile long, so from where I lived, it was only a few short blocks to the dirt roads of the countryside.
There, I could walk and think, often followed by a couple of stray black chows that had managed to elude the local dog catcher. I would always come back refreshed and peaceful, better equipped to face whatever it was that was troubling me.
Once, while vacationing in the mountains, our oldest daughter was all out of sorts, so we sent her on a walk with a little point and shoot digital camera. We watched her from the window of the cabin as she walked the mountain paths, here and there bending down to take photos of wildflowers, rocks, ground squirrels, and logs. It was just her and God’s green earth. When she came back, she was calm, and she’d found a new passion.
When our family visits the Farmhouse, my boys love to walk the surrounding acreage. They beg to be outside, breathing the fresh air, exploring nature, and kicking up the dust of the country roads. There is nothing out there but wide, open spaces dotted by cattle, cottonwoods, and Amish buggies. They never ask for toys when we are there. They don’t need distractions or entertainment. The out-of-doors has given them all they need.
Yesterday, I felt bogged down. A lot of things were weighing heavy on my mind. Mommy things. Information to be sifted, choices to be made, one thought leading to another to another…no end in sight.
So, I walked.
My 9 year old son asked to join me, and we walked the mile loop around our wooded neighborhood. We talked of locust and sycamore trees, of his aspirations to be a painter and own a ranch, complete with a red pickup truck.
And I paid attention to life.
I paid attention to him.
I did what I should have been doing all along…just BEING Mommy.
Sometimes all it takes to ratchet the stress level down a notch (or two…or six…) is to take a step outside. When I was a teenager, I walked those country roads to be by myself. When my daughter walked those mountain paths camera in hand, she was learning more about herself. My boys on the farm are simply being themselves. And yesterday, as I walked hand in hand with my son through our neighborhood streets, I was finding myself – not in some new-agey, feel-good sense of the word, but in the fact that as I walked, I let go of certain expectations and stressors. I walked away from the things that don’t matter, and walked side-by-side with the things that do.
Sometimes all you need is a walk to see where you really need to be.
Take a walk today and ask God to head you back in the right direction. Let go of all the extra stuff, and be thankful for where you are right this very minute.