“All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.”
~ Hal Borland ~
It’s crazy how fast they grow. No matter how many times strangers and loved ones alike voice this truth to me, it still comes as a startling surprise once I’m in the midst of the discovery of it.
Early last summer my husband ventured out with my two older girls to window shop for bikes. It seems it was only yesterday that they were wobbling uncertainly with the training wheels freshly plucked from their Strawberry Shortcake bicycles. And then, in a wink, we are here and they’re both in need of bigger and better vehicles to carry them through life.
Flashes such as these leave me flabbergasted. And as I mourn the loss of their chubby cheeks and their mini tutorial wheels I am inspired, at long last, to savor every new passing moment. Whatever it may bring.
So, when they came home with a Yorky Terrier rather than a new set of wheels I felt compelled to submit. To give them the moment, the gift of a man’s best friend. I wasn’t about to call her mine but I was willing to let her live in our house – for their sake.
I suppose it helped that she looked like this when they rolled into the drive and that she was shaking compulsively – seemingly more afraid of us than I could have been of her.
What’s not to love right? Well, this sweet little hairball garbed in cuteness may not shed but she does poop and pee and eat and bark like any other dog, plus there is the whole walking thing.
One might think that the instigators of this adventure would take claim to all the added bonuses that come along with owning a dog, but then ’one’ would also be mistaken. Because after summer had set, school laid its claim on the lives of my children. So, when my bring-home-the-bacon man set off each morning to do what he must, Zoe and I were all that was left. Consequently, I think it’s pretty obvious who ended up taking on the brunt of her needs.
We’ve FINALLY, after seven months of frustrating potty-training, gotten past the piles of poo and the puddles of pee which demanded tireless discipline and sanitation. But, the girl still barks at o’dark thirty in the morning and o’dark thirty at night if she doesn’t have her walk. And I, AGAIN, am pretty much the sole provider of the meanderings her pent-up energy cries out for.
For many months I begrudged our daily jaunts through the neighborhood. Summer soon turned to fall and, too soon, fall turned to winter – so mind you, many of these promenades where costumed in gear that only a Western Washington native can truly relate to. Most days I’d pull up my hood and pop in my head phones to drown out the unbecoming grumbling that swirled in my head, bemoaning this added chore in my endless spray of ‘to-dos’. Each excursion was a mission to get er’ done. There was no time for sniffing or exploring. I gripped her leash taut and we powered through.
And then the sun made a surprise appearance one day early in February…
- and suddenly I saw the light.
You know, that glow I claim to be constantly searching for? The bright side of any situation. The good in all the bad. The joy in even the simplest or most mundane of things.
The clear blue sky above and the light that warmed my face slowed me down just enough to let the light shine through. And when it did, it stopped me in my tracks.
I peered down at my furry friend, because even with all the bemoaning and groaning, she is just that – my friend. Perhaps we were forced upon each other, chosen rather than by choice. But, there we were walking this way together and, when the clouds have finally parted, I can see that even that is a gift.
I looked into her dark, foreboding eyes and I am sure she whispered wisdom to me, straight from her little heart to mine.
In the passing of a few blinks she seemed to warn me not to walk my kids like I walk my dog. I hold their leashes in my hand and I move along with purpose – I am on a mission, in a hurry to get it done and get it done right. I grip their reins tight and sometimes, without even knowing it, I end up leaving no room for adventure. I tire of the chores the gift of them creates and often turn a blind eye towards the character these selfless disciplines are carving into my spirit.
It’s then that I realized, these walks that have been forced upon me, are really as much for me as they are for her? The fresh air and the daily steady pace of calisthenics breathes peace into my being, clearing my mind and casually reminding my heart to beat a little stronger than before.
I’m reminded that sometimes we need to be shoved into things. There are places in our lives that if we are not forced to go, we will never know the gifts that lay waiting for us there. The warning signs we need to pay heed to. The whispers we need to hear.
There are treasures laying hidden in the most ordinary places, places we have passed a million times over, missing each and every time - until the light shines down and makes it shimmer.
I did not want a dog because I did not want any more on my plate. It was full. But, I did not know what she had to offer. I did not know what she’d teach me or what she’d give to them.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not going to plaster ‘I Love My Yorky’ bumper stickers all over my car. And I probably won’t pay for open heart surgery if that little ticker of hers struggles to beat as strong as it should, like mine so metaphorically does. But, I will concede that a dog was a good thing to add to the platter of our family’s existence.
Even now that the sun has gone into hiding again and the drizzle I’ve been enduring for months on end, has returned – I am looking forward to the walk I must take, that I’ve been pushed into accepting. I find that if I am not shoved out, even into the gloomiest of days, I forget what they are worth. And I really do want to savor every new passing moment. I want to be deep into the discipline of delighting in them when the sun shines again and lights up the treasures that surround me. I want to be bigger and better, that I just might be who my kids need as we walk this way.
I encourage you to take a walk today, literally or figuratively. Squeeze it into your schedule. Step outside of yourself just long enough to take in the big picture. Expect to hear the whispering of angels. Continue to place one step in front of the other until the light shines down and then watch it shimmer, reflecting off your being, into the world you are blessed to touch.
I assure you, if you take the steps - you are bound to discover something about yourself and where it is you are going. God used a dog to get me there. So be careful. If you don’t search out the revelation on your own, you may just get shoved into it and who knows what He’ll bring into your life to get you there:)