Our family loves to go on walks. We had a path in the woods behind our house. It was once a railroad but the tracks had long since been pulled up, and what was left was a short path into the woods. And it was ours. We would take after-dinner walks when the weather was warm. Sometimes when it snowed, we would put on all our gear out go out there too. People used to throw trash down there and it would upset me, but on one trip down our path with my aunts, they found a tire and we rolled it back to our house. My dad made it into a tire swing that was in our front yard for years.
On our walks my dad would find a stick for each of us to walk with. He had to make sure that we each had a good one or we'd think the other sibling had a better one and get jealous. The walk wasn't long but having our walking sticks made us feel like we could walk for miles. My mom would point out the plants to us along the way, making sure we know which plants were dangerous...especially that poison ivy. She never liked when we took a detour down to the stream, since we inevitably got muddy, but she knew that those were some of our best memories as a family together. To this day when I'm walking or hiking on trials I like to look around. I see the sticks that would be great walking sticks and I take note of where the poison ivy is.
But lately my I'm finding that the things I used to enjoy about waking are not as enjoyable. I find that I'm no longer able to focus on sticks and plants. Instead I'm focused on who's coming my way or who might be coming up behind me. I'm focused on the mask I'm wearing, and noticing all the people who are also wearing masks. I notice that instead of seeing smiling faces pass by me, I just see eyes - eyes that have some fear in them too. Fear of getting too close to each other. Fear that the path is not wide enough for both of us to walk safely past. Fear that if we breathe in too deeply we might breathe in something that could hurt us.
I think that's part of becoming an adult. Realizing the outlook you had as a child was not necessarily reality. Finding out that the things you were naive about are things you need to stop and think about now. Realizing that what you parents made a game of was their way of making sure you felt safe and protected. Coming to terms with the fact that this world can give you many, many reasons to fear if you allow it to.
And as followers of Christ, who read His word and allow it guide our life and direct our paths, we are specifically given the mandate to not fear. It's written in the Bible approximately 365 times. So at least once you a day you can remember. Remember to focus on your eye on Him. Remember not to fear about the outcome. Remember not fear about the day to day. Remember not to fear about the unknown. Remember not to fear about what is out of your control. Remember not to fear about what others do and say. Remember not to fear about the future. And if you keep reading His word, He promises that when you make the choice to 'fear not', He will provide you with peace, and joy, and hope. He promises you that He has you and your future in His hands.
Talking a walk may look different now than it did when I was little. Especially in the craziness of the world we are currently living in. But after I put on my mask, I put my headphones in and turn up the worship music. I look out over the rim of the mask and see the cardinal in the tree, and the blue jay flying by. I see the fish swimming in the stream and breathe in the smell of the growing wisteria. I feel the warm sun on me, and the breeze as it comes through the trees. I can see his creation and sense His presence all around me. And I notice that that big stick would be good for walking, but I don't pick it up because I also noticed the poison ivy growing next to it.