Photo by Stephen McCay

She walked with me tonight.  I find myself engaged these days in an activity which I once treated with scorn; something we call exercise.  As a slender young man, confident of good health which would last forever, I promised that I would never walk, or run, or ride a bicycle, simply for the physical activity.  I did participate in all of those, but only for enjoyment.  Riding with friends, playing a pick-up game of football or basketball, even a session of trick catches with the Frisbee in the front yard with her little sister–all those and more would be enough exercise for me.  I laughed scornfully whenever the old people wandered past on their evening walks, anxious to assuage their doctors’ concerns.  “Never!”

But, somehow I’ve gotten off course a bit.  We were talking about her, weren’t we?   Well, actually about her being with me.  She had apologized in advance for slowing me down from my usual breakneck pace, but she needn’t have worried.  I act as if it doesn’t matter that I have to walk or run by myself most nights, but I’d rather have company any day.  Hers anyway.  We do walk rapidly, but we talk, we observe, we enjoy the trip–together.

Oh, it was no romantic walk in the moonlight, mind you.  At one point, we did come upon a young couple having one of those.  They were holding hands and ambling along, looking at each other dreamily.  We zipped past them and chuckled after we were out of earshot.  I told her that we should hold hands, too.  She retorted that my hands were too sweaty and she wasn’t touching them.  Laughing out loud, we sped up to keep our heart rates thumping along at a healthy speed.   But, my mind, as it is wont to do with some frequency, was already in the past, remembering another walk with this Lovely Lady.

It happened thirty-six years ago, if I remember correctly.  A spring evening, nearing twilight, and I was sitting alone on the stone table near the banks of the little creek that winds through our beautiful town.  I wasn’t thinking about how beautiful it was just then.  I was lonely.  Eight hundred miles away from my hometown, I spent my days in working and sitting around waiting to go back to work. There was no one to fill the lonely hours in between.

Suddenly, I looked along the sidewalk back toward the downtown area, and I saw her.  The pretty sixteen year old redhead was tripping along the concrete pathway.  Maybe she would stop and talk to me!  I had met her at church a few months before, so she knew me and–sure enough–she headed toward the table upon which I sat when I waved.  Before I knew it, I was offering to walk with her and she was accepting!  Two blessed miles to her parent’s house!  We didn’t hold hands that time either, but we talked, and we observed, and we enjoyed the trip–together.  Come to think of it, that walk turned out to be almost exactly as long as our walk tonight, because I still had to walk all the way back to my apartment after leaving her at her door.  Four miles I walked that night, too.  It didn’t feel like exercise either, because I was walking on air–both ways.

The memory fades and I am in the present again.  If you read these posts frequently, you will be all too aware that I have been a little down in recent days.  I promised that I would leave my disappointments in a place of  expedience last night.  Sometimes, the realization of the amazing blessings we possess is enough to put those obstacles to joy in the proper perspective.  I don’t wish to mislead you; this particular disappointment is not one which will ever fade into nothingness, but it is one which will fade into an appropriate place in the big picture of life, instead of filling up the lens through which I view the whole of my journey here.

Another four mile walk with the love of my life brings the realization that she has been walking with me for the great majority of my years on this planet.  Our love has changed and grown, as we have matured together.  I am content to have her there beside me still.

Such are the great gifts of a beneficent Creator.  It’s nice to know that He walks beside us too, through the stormy days, the lonely times, and the seasons of weeping, as well as the years of blessing and plenty.

Companionship along the way is nothing to be scoffed at.

Even if she does slow me down a bit, now and then.

“A good companion shortens the longest road.”
(Turkish proverb)

“For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:10~NET)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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