Put on your walking shoes

Sep6-Nietzsche

I read somewhere that if you are stumped, in a creative black hole or want a new perspective on a problem, then taking a walk can switch something in your brain, so that options and opportunities open up. It spurs creative ideation, settles negative emotions and changes moods. I love a good walk. For 3.5 years I walked down the same beautiful street to work, watched seasons change, paying particular attention to the sounds and beauty before me. It was my morning and afternoon meditation. Rain, sleet, snow or sweltering heat, I walked because it brought me life and peace. It opened my eyes and my heart.

Twice in the past month, I got a chance to walk my neighborhood. On Good Friday, a group of churches did the Stations of the Cross at 12 different locations around the neighborhood. We walked, stopped, prayed, read scripture and listened to reflections from people from the various churches. As we walked from station to station, someone lead the processional with a cross held up before us. It was quite an experience. The walk put brick and mortar, pavement and parks, people and silence, earth and sky as backdrops to the Gospel story. I reminded me that God is not just in a church or chapel, he is outside in our everyday lives, on our streets, with us as we walk. He shows up in nature and his creation. This walk grounded me in that reality and to the truth that I am also a part of his ongoing story.

The second instance was the week before. It was a nice day and our formation facilitator decided to take us outside for our monthly reflection on one of the rules of life. This month, we were reflecting on the rule of hospitality. We were instructed to walk as a group and search for things within our general neighborhood that we thought represented hospitality. Someone pointed out our chapel, we invite anyone from the community to pray with us at 7am, 12pm and 6pm. Another person pointed out the school that is one block a way, as a representation of not just a school, but a community facility. The laugher of the children she could hear from her window was hospitable. I pointed out the prevalence of front porches, people sit on them, watch, listen, are available to their neighbors. Front parches also promote safety, as the presence of people sitting outsides provides “eyes on the street.” As we passed a cleaners, one gentleman noted that the woman there was always kind in her service to him. When we got to the main road, one of us stopped and pointed to the flowers out in front of the beauty shop as a way to be hospitable and make the business and street attractive. The best example of hospitality came out of the front door though. Marie, a stylist came out and asked us if she could help us, engaged us in a conversation about her business and even gave everyone a discount. She was genuinely open, interested and willing to provide service and assistance. She made all of us feel welcome. We returned home feeling expanded and surprised from the experience.

It is amazing what you can see and find if you put on a new lens. Whatever we go out looking for, we tend to find. A walk can be a break from something, an adventure, a means of transportation, a prayer, a ceremony or just a way to stay awake to the life, beauty and hospitality that is present around us. I hope you pay close attention on your next walk, I am sure you will be surprised by what you begin to see. I am sure this new seeing will reveal something of God’s beauty, truth and goodness to you.

Do you know what time it is?

do you know what time it is

While driving on 64 west, I was behind a truck when a pebble ricocheted off one of its wheels and landed in the center of my windshield, leaving a nice little chip. I looked at that chip for weeks, knowing I probably needed to go get it checked out. I was foolishly hoping it would remain small and I wouldn’t have to do anything about it. About 4 weeks later, I got in my car and realized that the little chip had stretched out across my windshield and created a 12” crack. Darn! I called my insurance company immediately. As it would have you, chips are easy to fix and can be repaired free of charge under insurance. Cracks over 6” however require replacement and are right under the insurance deductible amount. Waiting to do something I knew I needed to do from the moment that rock hit my window, had cost me $206.27. That’s quite a price tag.

This got me wondering whether there are other places in my life where I’m waiting and procrastinating on things that need to me addressed, changes/decisions that need to be made, and opportunities taken. Perhaps the cost is getting greater or the burden harder to bear with my inaction. I wonder how it is happening for others. Maybe there is a job that needs to be left, career changed, a venture that is ready to be birthed, a relationship to end or friendship to start. Is now the time? What exactly are you waiting for, is waiting benefiting you or costing you?

On the flip side, I am a believer in God’s time in the ecclesiastical sense, that there is a time for everything under the sun. I also believe that there is a holy waiting that can occur and is a blessing. It may be a season to sit down, rest, heal or learn; to cocoon, not to butterfly. Transformation happens in the cocoon. We must discern whether it is time to act or time to wait. I don’t want to act when I should rest. I don’t want sit on the couch when I should act on those things that are in my heart to do. How will I know what time it is?

This is where living life as a conversation with God comes into play. Consistent conversation with God can help us discern what season we are in in different aspects of our lives. In one area, it may be a season of waiting, in another, action. You would have to know how to listen to God and the ways in which he speaks to you in and through your heart and life. Is it through prayer? Spiritual friendship? Scripture reading? Silence? Resonance? Listening to and reflecting on your days?

I pray you seek God in ways that resonated with you, so you can hear him speak. In this new season, I pray that you know where He is inviting you to act and where He is inviting you to wait.

Accompaniment

I’m always on the lookout for good questions. Questions that get me to deeply reflect and discover something new or move me to greater intentionality. These two questions were about accompaniment, someone to travel with you on your journey.

  1. Who do I have accompany me on my personal and professional journey? To offer me strength, support and encouragement?
  2. Who am I supporting in their success?

After spending 8 months traveling the world alone, I learned firsthand the benefits of companionship. Nine times out of 10, whenever I met someone that I could tour, travel, eat, talk or volunteer with, it always make my time better. The good times were more beautiful and the tough times were more bearable. On the last day of my ATW trip, I was rather tired and not interested in meeting anymore new people. I randomly got into this conversation with Mark, a Spaniard who had just moved to Australia. He was having some trouble understanding the English of our tour guide, and though I didn’t really want to talk I begin helping him out. After the tour, we ended up spending the entire afternoon together at Bondi Beach, had dinner and spent the entire next day together hiking in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. Those were a few of the best days of my trip. Some of the burden of trying to figure out what I was going to do, where I was going to go and watching over my person and personal belongings was shared when we were together. Likewise, we also shared in the beauty of the scenery, food and our love for old school hip-hop. I doubt I would have even taken the hike by myself, but with someone it was feasible and enjoyable.

Likewise, in my entrepreneurship class, we have accountability partners to help us through the class. We discuss our ideas, fears, get feedback and offer whatever advice and encouragement we can offer. We also get support from the other women we interact with in the FB group. This interaction is priceless. Similarly, my coaching program advised us to create an advisory board, a group of people with varying expertise that believe in us and our business. Accompaniment. Sometimes we have to be vulnerable and ask for the help and support we need, other times it comes naturally. Either way it’s a blessing. Whether it’s a church community, family member (s), a small group of faith or friends, an accountability partner, mentor or spiritual director, I’ve learned the role that support (a living cloud of witnesses) plays in my spiritual journey and professional success.

The second question was more penetrating. I knew I had a lot of support, but who in my life needed my support? After reflecting, I was inspired to be intentional about “paying it forward” and supporting someone else in my life that may need support. Last, Tuesday, I set a weekly appointment to meet with one of my co-workers, to simply see how he was doing, share information and support him in his success. I’m exciting about the journey, my own and witnessing his.

  1. Who is supporting you in your journey? Where might you seek out this kind of support?
  2. How are you contributing to another’s success? Who in your life needs your support?