I reflected on my life today. That's what happens when I get by myself and walk in nature. Well, nature today included a mowed soccer field and a dormant corn field in the heart of America...the great bread basket of the world.
God's breath was loud and moving--the leaves, the grass, the dried up corn stalks.
It seems that most of my memories consist of a walk. A trek of some sort. A journey. No matter how insignificant (although, I wonder at the significance seeing as how I remember the walks years later).
Like the walk I took along a curb with a friend named Zoey. It was a hot West Texas day, and we were ants on the concrete expanse of an Air Force base. She taught me that we could curse the devil with a certain finger, and not feel guilty one bit. Why does that stick out in my mind so much?
And then I think of the walk I took to school every day, clear on the other side of the world...through a quaint village nestled in the fields of East Anglia. Steps forward to a wooden gate that led to a path along the back of villager gardens, ending at the wide lawn sprawling from the little junior school of my youth.
Why do I remember that so much?
That time of my life was life. My eyes were opened to the beauty of literature, history, culture...and I had no idea at the time, but it was where the seed of a writer planted itself firmly in my soul. My heart opened wide as I read the stories upon pages of Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, and Roald Dahl, feeding and coloring the experiences of an American transplant in a world of old. I may have walked toward school and back home again, but really, I was walking toward a future that would not even meet my itching toes until twenty-eight years later.
There was a pretty coveted walk a few years later...one that I took several times over the course of high school. I found myself absorbing the life of characters upon a stage. I lost myself in the poetic verse of Shakespeare, the drama, passion, and rhythm of sixteenth century verse. How much my heart leapt with the emotion of my part. How odd to think back on those steps upon the stage and realize they were actual steps to my future...now just twenty years away.
But as with any good story, or worn journey, things do not find the future brimming and waiting unobstructed. And the heart gets in the way of that forward motion.
And I walked down the aisle...bashful and awkward, but hope-filled and assured in the love of a waiting heart at the altar.
And we walked toward a family--enduring the labor pains of a first child as we walked around a mall, stepped toward a future assured by each-other's security--walking around a neighborhood of our first house pushing our son and bursting with the new-found parental love--and ascending the steps of the church, to dedicate ourselves to the spiritual growth and guidance of our child...as we did with the next three children as well.
Every step moves toward something, doesn't it?
And while I was taking those steps, I thought I had a pretty good idea about what would meet me along the way.
And how wrong it was to think that I knew for certain.
I walked today, looking at my feet upon the path, remembering a most recent walk. One with my journal tucked beneath my arm, and my heart set on hearing God's voice. And I think I heard Him...and I reveled in His message to me. And I thought I knew. I thought I knew that this journey could only get better...but then everything stopped.
Who would have thought that from all the steps, the forward motion, my steps would dissolve in quick sand, and I'd not just take steps backward, but I would sink deep and low, finding myself in the darkest valley of my existence. My toes rested upon shards of broken dreams and expectations.
Even now, I can barely see the light. There is a crumb of my journey left...as I see those steps on British soil and upon the stage well up and create a story so close to my heart and so ingrained upon the pages of a novel, that I find hope there. I am not all lost.
And then, as I walked in a pitiful nature today...a manipulated one... I remembered the breath of God on my walk not long ago. It makes me wonder, if He really is still close to me...even in this darkness where the bramble of lies covers my ears and my heart?
I will keep walking. Hoping for that story--penned from the steps of a child to an adult, by the voices, literature, and art of those in history--to blossom on the paths of others' journeys pushing their hearts in steps of their own futures. This is my hope for my writing.
But mostly, I pray that the valley will not last much longer...that I will find a way out...that I will see God's hand once more, and He will pull me to the surface again. This is my hope for my heart.