Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The pure joy of a good walk

Psalm 48:12-13 (NIV)

Walk about Zion, go around her,
   count her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
   view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
   to the next generation.
It’s not exactly Zion, but I have been walking around my neighborhood a bit more than usual. With the rest of the family away Tuesday, I was able to start my morning not with changing a diaper and making three orders of breakfast, but with a brisk stroll through our little subdivision. And near sundown, with laundry in the dryer and a few more other tasks completed, I set off again on the same course.

I don’t suggest this for everyone, but when I walk it involves gym shorts, a heart rate monitor and a pre-mapped course so I know my distance. Once I’m done, I can plug my time and other details into a fitness tracking website. Yes, I’m a bit obsessive. A while back, I named this particular route “Charlie walk,” since it’s the precise path I used each time I strapped the kid into a carrier and set off to get him some fresh air and Kristie some time with just two kids.

Charlie and I both worked up a pretty good sweat, and he usually fell asleep, which meant I had to be careful about keeping the sun off his face. After all, when your head slumps to the side the floppy hat you’re wearing doesn’t keep UV rays off your neck. We did this walk in the stroller a few times, but he never cared for that the way Max did.

As I’ve recounted before, when Max was a baby I would walk him nearly every night, often for an hour or more. We didn’t know then what we know now about baby carriers. I’m sure Max would have preferred to be worn on those walks — he may not have been such a fussy infant had we had better wraps and carriers at the time. But we had what we had, we did what we did, and I’ll always have fond memories of that summer in Central Illinois, walking up and down the banks of the Fox and Illinois rivers, through this historic downtown area and spending an awful lot of time just staring down at my baby as he stared back at me.

I imagine when Baby Four shows up, I’ll get to walk with him plenty as well. Probably not right away, since it might be cold in October, but certainly by the spring. The kid doesn’t have a name yet, so I have no grand thoughts about mapping a route just for the two of us and titling it after the littlest Holland. But I am already looking forward to those quiet times together.

I cannot recommend walking highly enough. The world just looks different on foot, even when I’m hoofing it at a 12-minute-mile pace. I don’t count towers, ramparts or citadels, but I do see people, landscaping, interesting houses, wildlife and so on. It’s much easier to reflect on natural beauty when I can hear and smell it, with no barrier of car windows. And even though I am almost always listening to a podcast when out and about, I’m still able to think differently than I do during any other time of the day. I’m exercising, sure, but I’m not counting reps or focusing on form. I guess it sounds kind of hokey, but it’s just as healthy for my mind as it is for my body.

Jack has been bugging us lately for permission to ride his bike to the library. It’s actually very close to our house, but he’d have to cross a five-lane intersection to get there, which is not exactly in our comfort zone. Max is showing much more stamina when it comes to riding his own bike, and even Charlie likes to stretch his limits a bit. I don’t know if I ever envision the whole family setting off somewhere on foot as any sort of regular routine, but I do hope to pass on to my kids the joy of a good walk.

Walk about, go around, count, consider, view. It’s a pretty good philosophy. I can’t promise anyone else would enjoy it in the same manner, but I’m coming up on ten years of serious walking and my only regret is not starting any sooner.

A prayer for June 26:

Lord, I think you for my health. I know I far too often take for granted the ability to move as I please, to eat what I want and to keep up with the physical demands of family life. I need to count my vitality among my blessings, and to consider my body as a gift to be treasured rather than abused. Life is a precious gift on its own, but being able to enjoy and experience creation is a blessing in its own right. Thank you for the daily opportunities to do so. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment