When I am worried or in danger of becoming obsessed with myself, I need outside air like a drug- to drink my coffee on the back deck; to sit on the bench in the front yard; to lean back on the warm concrete at dusk; to chat with a neighbor on our painted porch steps. It’s time to take a walk.

All walks are not created equally. I can walk in worry and in fear. I can walk fast to try to catch up to an expectation – beauty, deadline, stress-relief. There are different ways to take a walk and none of them are wrong. But when I am mildly obsessed with myself, I have to practice walking like a believer.

Carry the questions. If you go on a walk looking for answers, you may come home with two hands filled with disappointment. But oh, the peace to be found in learning to carry around your questions, in learning, as Ruth Haley Barton says, to “be with what is.” Let the day be the day without trying to run away from it.

Open your hands. And whatever is, open your hands to it. If it is the elation of love, delight in it. If it is the disappointment of heartbreak, feel it. If it is the boredom of this regular Wednesday, give yourself permission to be unremarkable today. You can wow them tomorrow. Today is for small.

Breathe in love. Love is patient and kind. And then, not a list of what love is, but a list of what it isn’t. Love is not jealous, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, or a score-keeper. Resist the urge to turn your walk into a rhythm of scores and grievances. Instead, love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This is what love always does, what He always does. Breathe in the deep color of this love, because it’s as real as oxygen anyway.

Breathe out thanksgiving, for those two feet carrying your whole body around. Two tiny feet! You are a miracle. And those trees you pass under with branches that could send your spirit straight up to heaven if they chose the right time to fall? Breathe out his faithfulness. Praise God for the invisible hands that hold those branches in place. You are alive and the sky is not falling. At least not today.

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