I wanted a nap, but clearly that wasn’t happening. I was confused about how to respond to what I was feeling, and I began to feel dizzy. The children were spinning ’round and ’round. One was screaming, the other was shouting, “Look at me!” I decide here that quiet is necessary to recover my brain, and I consider taking a walk by myself to recharge. “That’s what I need,” I think myself.
I’ve been contemplating over a story that I am working on, and I take pause at this thought I’m circling in my head over ‘detours.’ I ask myself where I would go if I had nowhere to go. I want to know where the wind inside me might blow, if not for this insatiable lust for destination. But I’m tired, and I can’t think. I just need a walk.
About this time my infectious niece, who I cannot refuse, says to me, “I know what we should do!” This is a routine dialogue of ours. It’s my cue to ask her what, which she promptly follows up with, “We should take a walk!” This is our running act together, and it’s famous.
Now in case I haven’t mentioned it, I refuel with solitude. By this I mean that the walk I had anticipated was most certainly meant to be enjoyed alone. But I cannot refuse this kid.
So we’re walking. Her mom was home briefly on lunch, and now she’s heading back to work. She and her adult son are exchanging their thoughts on a matter in slightly elevated tones of voice. Not yelling at all, mind you. And you believe me, don’t you? Because we never raise our voices in my home. Ahem. I digress.
We’re about halfway down the street from our house, and this sweet child says that her mommy’s upset. (She’s fine.) To my three-year-old niece, this is serious. She says, “We should help her feel better.” I agree of course, and tell her that’s a great idea. I ask her what we should do. She says, “Let’s ask Jesus.” Do you see that puddle in your mind’s eye? That’s my heart, totally melted. She says, “Let’s do it now… Jesus, help Mommy feel better. And brother too… And that boy is mean.” It’s a different boy, not her brother. But who doesn’t love the prayer of a child? Now ask me if I still wish that I was walking solo. We continue on our adventure.
Just ahead, we pass some “yellow grass’ and “more yellow grass.” This is getting exciting! She picks up a few pieces, naming the people she’ll give them to. She doesn’t forget to mention me either. We move along. She cleans each blade of ‘yellow grass’ individually with her cotton swab. You may refer to this delightful stuff as hay. And no, I don’t know why she’s carrying a cotton swab. I smile.
We’re nearing the mailboxes where we generally take our rest, and it occurs to me that I have more time than I usually do. I think it’s a perfect day to visit the corner store for some cookies. I have cash in my pockets. Pockets usually wouldn’t be present in this scenario, given that I frequently take walks in my pajamas. Do you think she has to think about her answer when I ask if she wants to go to the corner store? I think you know that answer.
We arrive, and I consider that it would be a nice day to show her the air hockey table. But I keep that idea a secret. We choose some chips and some cookies. We add a handful of beef sticks and a big pickle. That’s a bonus! I exchange a dollar bill for quarters, give her two, and she says thank you to the store clerk with a big smile. We take our things to the back of the store where I show her where to put her quarters, and I introduce my life-loving niece to air hockey. She loves it!
On our way back home, we come up on the trees near the mailboxes where we usually stop. She anticipates with joy the “yummy snacks” we will eat. “Let’s eat our snacks outside!” she declares. We park ourselves by the trees and take off our shoes. We see leaves falling like rain from a tree across the way. It’s brilliant. “I wonder where they come from,” she says. We enjoy our snacks in the soft grass.
She tells me to lie back because she wants to lay on top of me. The leaves and the limbs look to me like a kaleidoscope. The birds are singing. My brain is quiet. I enjoy thoroughly the company I keep. This is nice.
We see a huge flock of birds taking off for flight, and we’re totally relaxed in the shade of this tree on this perfect heaven sent day. We play a little Ring Around The Rosie, and fall back free of care on the grass. I chase her a bit, and spot her feet as they dangle in the air when she tries to convince me in action that she can in fact fit into the large mailbox. This simple play is delightful. The magic is everywhere.
She crosses her legs and licks her beef stick like a cat. She says, “This is like a picnic.”
“Yep,” I tell her. “It sure is.”
She climbs on my back and offers me some dried up dandelion flowers she’s picked from the grass. She whispers things in my ear that she wants me to say. She’s having a grand time. So am I. Her joy is full. So is mine.
And I wanted to take a boring walk by myself?
This is a perfectly refreshing afternoon filled with wonder and slowness. It is pure, and rich in its treasure.
I was struck by this notion of ‘detours’ just a day or two ago when I was jogging into the beautiful scenery just ahead of me. I hated to turn away from that moment. I was so completely enjoying the being refilled that was soaking into my bones. I could sense God’s nearness, and the solitude was restoring my over worked brain. He was whispering refreshments into my spirit, and I didn’t want it to end. But my time was short. So I turned back for home.
Now I had turned from this vision of where I was going, but the whispers packed into that quiet were still there. God was still speaking. It occurred to me that it wasn’t so important where we were going, but who I was with.
God has slowed me down extremely in my time with His Word this season. And I mean like one verse a day slow. I’ve been in the Psalms, and I’ve felt that nudge in a couple chapters already to put on the breaks. When I finished the 27th Psalm, I totally thought we were just going to pick back up with the usual speed. You know, like a chapter a day at least. I mean it is the Psalms after all. There are 150 chapters! I get restless to see where we’re going. But this slowing me down thing has been good. So good.
Here I am, ready to dive into the 28th Psalm, and He does it again. It’s the same thing, one verse at a time. I think to myself, at this rate I’ll make it through the Psalms before I make it to heaven at least. And I laugh. But it’s okay. No really, I mean. It really is okay. Because He’s still speaking. I’m still hearing from Him, and the journey is good.
Back to that picnic scene with our ‘yummy snacks.’ Bugs are biting me, and I’m ready to go. My niece is NOT ready to go. That is until I ask her, “Don’t you miss you’re sister?” To which, she promptly puts on her shoes, and we’re well on our way.
It was a great day!
The moral of this story you might ask? It’s not what we’re doing or where we’re going, but the company we keep that matters most.
“To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.” Psalm 28:1
God is still with me, and the journey is good. He’s with you too, my friend. Just enjoy the journey, because He’s the good company that you get to keep.
“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy.” Psalm 28:6
Wherever it is that He’s leading you… it may not be quite what you were expecting. But it’s going to be great! I bet it’s even be better than you ever imagined. There’s so many places that He wants to take you, my friend. The route that He has for you can’t likely be charted with your GPS. The magic lives in the detours.
Now when my precious niece asks me what we should do, she tells me with glee that we should go to the corner store!
“Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9