Saturday, August 23, 2014

Walking: Grieving And Rejoicing

I've spent many hours walking this summer - through my neighborhood, along a canal in Indianapolis, down a mountain in Vermont, and through many, many parks in New Jersey. By the time summer is over, I will have logged nearly 300 miles. This is happening in part because my husband and I are training to walk a half-marathon in December and in part because I have been grieving. And so I walk and I pray and I grieve.

I've walked with my husband, and with my friend Meredith, but most of those miles I have walked alone. Something is soothing about being out in nature, using my legs and my arms, hearing my own breathing and feeling the sweat pour down my face. It's a reminder that every breath is a gift from the One who loved us into being.

Today I walked more than four miles through the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, a wild swath of land near my parents' house in Bedford, New York. The photos are from today's walk.

All that I grieve has to do with time passing, with the death of a young friend, the loss of memory, the passing of childhood. I am comforted when I walk by the music of the hundreds of songs on my iPhone: including the Daughters of Mary singing Ave Maria and reciting the rosary, my beloved Bruce Springsteen, Bessie Smith, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks and Stevie Wonder.

I shuffle the songs so I will be surprised by what comes next.  The song (you can click to listen) that gives me the most comfort is by a singer/songwriter from the Shenandoah Valley named Marie Miller. She wrote it for a struggling friend, but I like to imagine God singing it to me. The lyrics go like this:

"I wanna save you, I wanna save you from the pain. I wanna help you, I wanna help you feel the same again. I wanna fix you, I wanna fix your brokenness. I wanna change it, I wanna change it for the best.
So listen to me now. I'm not gonna stand here, when my friend's down and out. I'm not gonna run when, it's hard to figure it all out. If there's anything to say, I will tell you right now: 

You're not alone, 

You're not alone, 

you're not alone."

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