Walking in Wonder
by pastor teer hardy
Over the past week, I have rediscovered the joy of a walk. This time last year I was preparing to begin training to run my first marathon. The result of these preparations resulted in outdoor activities being a means to an end. I needed to get enough base miles on my legs so that when the end of June arrived and my training plan began, I was ready to go. This time last year when I’d go out to walk the dog, I was usually scouting new running routes through the neighborhood. The section of Arlington that we live in has a hill (and when I say hill, I mean small mountain) on every street. There’s no escaping the hills. To escape the hills, one must run downhill out of the Ballston area which means when it comes time to return home, the route home is entirely uphill.
Running uphill is not fun – well it can be fun for a short period of time but to run from Lyon Village back to our home is two miles entirely uphill and two miles uphill is terrible. This time last year when I was out in the neighborhood I was not looking around, learning which homes were recently built or discovering which of the craftsman homes was my favorite. I rarely walked through the parks around our home looking for the beauty of what God had created, examining how our interference with the natural growth of native plants was harming the local ecosystem.
I grew up paying attention to such things. I was a member of the Envirothon team in High School (my specialty was soil). I took Environmental Science and AP Environmental Science in High School. As a Scout, I hiked, camped, and picked up litter from Prince Edward Island to the Blueridge Mountains. Today when I am walking the dog and see litter on the ground, I pick it up. I don’t tell you this to convince you that I am an environmental saint, but to point out that once we learn these practices, regardless of what we are looking for when we are walking/hiking/cycling the practice becomes a habit.
Over the past weeks, since we’ve been sheltering at home because of COVID-19, my walks with the dog or with Camden on his bike have awakened me to the beauty that has been around me. This beauty was here when I first arrived in Arlington nearly three years ago.
This week we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (our Caretakers group will have more for you this week on that). This anniversary has me thinking that while we are facing a pandemic and we are staying at home more than we ever imagined was possible, the beauty in our neighborhoods – the blooming spring flowers and budding trees – are an opportunity to take in the beauty of what God has created and we don’t have to go far to find it. So often we think we need to go hiking through the woods or walk along a beach to see the beauty of God’s creation. Those places are wonderful and my favorite places to connect with our Creator.
For now, I am going to enjoy my walks a little bit more. I am going to pause in front of Capital Caring and pray for those resting within its walls and give thanks for the beauty of the gardens on the property. I am going to walk up 17th Street and enjoy the tulips blooming in a church member's yard (I promise I won’t pick any for Allison).
How are you enjoying what God has created while at home? I’d love to hear about it and I am sure others would too. Call a friend up, send me an email, or talk to a neighbor (staying 6-feet apart) and let’s celebrate the wonders of creation.