Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you,
Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Proverbs 4:25-27

 

I killed a bunny yesterday morning. “Please don’t,” I said when I saw a good-sized cottontail poised in the tall grass by the roadside to my right.

“Please. Don’t.” My hands gripped the steering wheel, and my jaw tensed.

Though I made no sudden moves, not wanting to confuse the poor creature, it ran straight across the road in front of our car. It missed the passenger-side tire—rabbits are fast. “Please…” and then that sickening thump on the driver’s side.

MothersDayFlowers2017The day had started so well, with coffee and flowers from my daughter Jessica and son David. Then this. “On the way to church—again,” I moaned to Keith as I glanced at the road kill in the rearview mirror, “and on Mothers Day.”

About a year ago, I had run over a squirrel on the way to church. So my mind followed a familiar winding path from self-blame to self-pity: Maybe I should stop going to church. Maybe I should stop driving. Maybe I should stop getting out of bed.

Two weeks ago, our church hosted its annual Women’s Retreat in the same location as last year’s retreat. The afternoon featured breakout sessions including a contemplative walk. Here was the prompt, based on a Richard Rohr reflection:

Being in a hurry or impatient for some particular outcome creates sensations in our bodies. Notice what this impatience feels like, where it shows up—your jaw, neck, chest, hands, or gut. Be present to the feeling. Then slowly expand your awareness to include what your senses are taking in from the outside world.

While you walk, see, hear, smell, and touch. Touch the living earth with your bare hands. Feel the breeze and listen to the birds. Be present to this moment. Celebrate the beauty and mystery of our universe. Give thanks for the abundance of air, water, food, and shelter we receive every day.

Praise the Creator. Let the reality of both your impatience and the outer reality be as they are, without attaching to them. It is what it is. And all is grace.

I loosen my grip on the steering wheel. Then I opened my heart to the morning’s mystery and beauty. I praised the Creator.

“Well, I guess I just provided breakfast for the turkey vultures,” I said to Keith.

“You kept the car on the road, Carole, you didn’t swerve or land us in the ditch,” Keith said. “Even when you stay on the straight path, these things can happen.”

It is what it is. And all is grace.

8 Comments

  1. Martha Tobias

    During the retreat walk you said to touch the earth with your bare hands – well I tried. Unable to kneel because of my knees I tried to do it again when I sat at one of the benches after my walk. Again foiled because of my rib fracture. So I listened to the birds, felt the warm sun on my face and the breeze ruffle my hair, so as a result I was attuned to God’s creation even though I have limitations placed there to make me pause and be still.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      God pours His grace upon us wherever we are and no matter our circumstances. Thank you for sharing your experience. -C.D.

      Reply
  2. Sarah Myers

    Keith is so correct . . . even when we are on the straight path unhappy things happen. Or maybe BECAUSE we are on the straight path unhappy things happen. We learn to allow our suffering to transform us. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  3. ecdsblog

    Carole, I read and enjoy all of your posts, but this one especially resonates on many levels. I had the privilege of attending Richard Rohr’s Trinity conference last month (an early Mother’s Day gift from my family). Of course, Father Rohr and his co-presenters alluded to many of the ideas of your blog, but you might also be interested in the work of Jonathan Stall, a Coloradan I met at the conference. Jonathan founded Walk2Connect, a nonprofit devoted to the mission of using contemplative walking practices to connect members of diverse communities with one another and to become spiritually centered as individuals.

    When school is over for the summer, I hope to reread some of your pieces and perhaps to comment more thoughtfully. Thanks for all of your wisdom.

    Reply
    • Carole Duff

      Thank you so much for reading my posts and for sharing your “walking” experiences. I look forward to your comments, my friend, your wisdom.

      Reply
  4. Carole Duff

    Ah yes, the straight path is hard to understand on the surface of events. No one wants to suffer, but that is how we change. Thank you for your comment. -C.D.

    Reply

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