At the start of 2020 I decided not to set any new year resolutions but to have goals which would challenge me but feel attainable. Little did I know!!
I walk every day, often twice or three times a day, with my little dog. It is usually the same route – down our street, into the park or along the beach, and sometimes up into the woods behind us. So I thought at the start of 2020 I would challenge myself to, at least once a week, look for a new walk myself and then on the weekends dog and I could go for a new walk with my husband. We even had a jar that we had filled with walk suggestions, and planned to add to during the year. Well then Covid-19 struck and lockdown and the five mile rule, where we couldn’t go further than 5 miles from home to exercise, and were encouraged to not drive at all. For over three months we walked lots but always over the six similar routes. Then come October I fell of the horse and bruised my ribs and wasn’t able to drive so, once I was able to get back walking, it was back to those same regular walks. So we did lose about half the year! Also I found that even when lockdowns lifted we were lethargic and didn’t pull out any of those suggested walks in the jar because we wanted to go back to tried and trusted ones that were not too far away.
But in fact we did add to our list of local walks, and explored new places on those three times we were able to get away, So even with all the disruptions we did manage to do 48 new walks, all recorded on Instagram. I am pleased with this because even though the goal was not achieved this year, in a “normal” year it would be doable.
But through it I have learned something – that when things are tough we do need the familiar because sometimes doing something new is too much to have to think and plan. And you know what? That is alright. So I will be kind to myself that I didn’t achieve this goal and will look forward to this year. Even though I have not set a walking goal I will still count the new walks I do and see what happens.
I suppose my biggest achievement I have learned from this walking goal challenge is a great understanding of myself – which is not a bad thing.
I’ve written around this theme before but can’t find the posts to tag them. I am writing this now because I have been given an journaling exercise that is post-heroic. And I’m doing it without pictures for a change
I “became a Christian”, as the phrase was then, because I met something that amazed and astonished me. Yes I was lonely. I had just had my son and was living with someone who wasn’t his father in a house with other people. It was not a safe time. But something inside me was urging me to change. Some well-meaning Christians came along and knocked on my door. I went to their coffee morning and then I went to their church. I experienced an amazing spiritual encounter where I know that I met with the God who made the universe who told me He loved me and felt like I was being covered in a viscose glittery substance. I have since been told that was a Holy Spirit encounter. To me, at that time, it was like meeting the entity that made me, made my world, looked deep into who I was and how I was living and said “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”
Since that time I read the Bible loads, studied Christian doctrine, theology, right ways to be a Christian, been on mission, led prayer journeys and set up prayer groups, done all that stuff and in doing it totally agreed with the U2 song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” I’ve blogged on this and pondered this. I’ve tried to tame the mystery even though I know in my head “he is not a tame lion.”
I have reached a point in my Christian life where I am no longer wanting to be heroic, no longer wanting to tame the lion, understand the mystery. I have seen God let me down by letting people I know and love die with horrendous timing so that anniversaries of untimely deaths come at a time when we are trying to celebrate birthdays. I have seen God not come through on some dream that I believed He had promised me we would fulfil together. I have been angry and hurt and let down when it felt as if the mystery of God had turned out to be hollow.
Today I turn a corner. No that’s way too dramatic. Today I have decided to let the mystery out of the box and fly. I may never experience the viscous covering again, may never have a request answered as I like, but I know I have reached a point where I want to just hang out with the mystery, where I just want to be with whatever it is that I have tried to box as God.
So I’m still a Christian because I have decided that just as I don’t need all the answers neither does God need to tell them all to me; just as I don’t need to get it right all the time neither does God have to do what I think is right. I might even stop doing but learn to start practising and start just being. Not in that cheesy “oh I’m a human being not a human doing” but in that way that says it’s ok to just be me and for God to just be God, and for other people to just be who they are.
So I am still a Christian because there are no answers, no right ways, no clear paths but I do know that even through those dark paths the mystery that I call God is more than happy to walk with me and all my whinging and moaning and He still says “you may not being doing it all right but I like you. Come on let’s walk together.”
Yesterday the dog and I went for a walk up along Conwy Mountain. It’s a walk we’ve done before so I was walking without really thinking. There were times when I came to places where the path wasn’t clear and I had to guess where we were going and then we’d come across the path again. It reminded me of a time when my kids and I were walking in a Country park in Scotland and again we’d walk, lose sight of the path and then find something that showed we were going the right way – a green arrow, a bench, etc.
On Tuesday I went to see “Legally Blonde The Musical” and in that she has a set path that she is going on – to marry Warner for love – but he decides he wants someone more “serious” and so Elle decides to become more serious. From this she finishes up graduating as a lawyer and winning a case based on her bimbo knowledge, but also her skill with reading people. Originally she didn’t know her path would take her to being some great lawyer, she just wanted to find a way to marry the man of her dreams, who she doesn’t in the end either.
So often we think we are on a path that leads us in a totally different direction, or not sure if we are on a path at all, but what we need to do is keep walking.
I was thinking of all the other houses we looked at before we bought this one. We had a path “to move up to the mountains and the sea and run a hospitality house”. We are now living in a town we’d only heard of 2 years ago, I’m involved in a project with a castle I knew nothing about 2 years ago, and we have friends and guests and neighbours we didn’t know of till we met them. If we had bought another house then our lives, our friends, what we do, would be totally different.
Sometimes we don’t know the path, sometimes we do, but we do need to be bold and fearless and walk that path.
My son has joined the army this week. We have actually been unfair to him by asking him where he expects to go with his “army career”, and then at times worrying about what he’ll do after. My goodness he has only just joined and he doesn’t know what comes next. He can see the steps for the first 3 months. He can see some of the things he hopes to achieve but until he gets to A he won’t know what B is. That is the same for all of us. We had to buy this house in this town before we could start exploring what our lives would be.
What path will we be on in 10 years time? Who knows, but I know I will keep walking it whether I can see it clearly or not know that it is there in front of me.