When the task prescribed to you is walking…

The eternal is acquired in one way, and it is different from everything else precisely because it can be acquired only in one single way. It is the difficult way that Christ indicated by the words: “Small is the gate and narrow the way, that leads to life, and few are they that find it.” The comfortable—precisely the thing in which our age excels—absolutely cannot be applied with respect to an eternal blessedness. When, for example, the thing you are required to do is to walk, it is no use to make the most astonishing inventions in the way of the easiest carriages and to want to transport yourself in these when the task prescribed to you is walking. And if the eternal is the way in which it is acquired, it doesn’t do any good to want to alter this way, however admirably, in the direction of comfort. The eternal is acquired only in the difficult way.Søren Kierkegaard, in Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.

Chula in a rare moment of rest.
This reflection came to me this morning via the publication, Give Us This Day, a book of daily scripture readings and reflections.  What struck me the most about this is the imagery Kierkegaard uses for helping us understand how we are called to discomfort as followers of Christ.  “…when the task prescribed to you is walking,” he writes, don’t spend your time inventing an easier mode of transportation.  I wonder about this today because my major task of these days is walking our easily distracted puppy.

When I walk this puppy, I want to speed along, to exercise, get my steps in!  When the puppy walks, she is in major exploratory mode.  She tells me over and over with her meanderings and stops to sniff at this and that, that there is so much to the world around me that I am not noticing.  

There are so many dogs!  She makes me stop and talk to their owners–dog people are overwhelming good people, at least when they are with their dogs.   

Would you look at this flower!  She shows me the there new flora and fauna around here than what we had in Seattle.  

Can you take it easy and pay attention?  She reminds me that sometimes you just need to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, bridge, road, park–really just about anywhere, and take it all in.  

I am humbled and grateful to think about how God put this special softness in our hearts for our pets and how much more they do for us than we ever do for them.  

I know there is so much more to Kierdegaard’s message than what I pull out this morning but I think that all I am required to do right now is walk and stop and pay attention.  

into the Unknown

This place where you are…God circled on a map… Our Beloved bowed down knowing you were coming. –Hafiz

brooklyn-atlas-map-vandam

As you all know, I am heading off once again into the unknown, relocating, this time only Rick and me, to New York City (really Brooklyn).  In a week I will be feet on the ground, looking for a place, building a new life…again.  I am anxious, excited, and a little afraid.  I need loads of prayers!

I have been repeating the line above from a poem that I read shortly after my move to San Francisco.  I say it over and over in my head like a mantra to reassure and remind myself that God has been so, so good to me over the years through all these many moves.  After all, each one of you were gifts sent by our Beloved.

As I say each word, I imagine God preparing my place, somewhere in Brooklyn. Somewhere in Brooklyn there is an apartment that will become home.  There are neighbors I will get to know and shopkeepers and hair stylists and doctors and vets and members of a church who will welcome me.  There is work for me to do, Love’s work that will capture my imagination and feed me.  And there is a soul sister or two or three!  Open hearts that will let me in, like you all did.

It will take time–God’s time.  There will be good days and not so good days.  And even though I have been here before and I know the drill, for some reason this time there is a little more trepidation in me.  Maybe because I know so much more than the young girl who jumped wildly onto the roller coaster with Rick twenty-nine years ago.

I bring all this thinking and feeling to prayer.  As usual I am a bit of a mess, combination of faith, doubt, fear and joy.  Thank God that God travels lightly, fitting in the front pocket of my new pink backpack.  Please join my prayer–be with me.