Last week, a friend asked me to walk with her. Her journey of a year has been one of challenges and changes, new commitments to change. She has been walking with determination and consistency.
I walk for therapy, for freeing my mind of stress, ear buds in…soul cleansing lyrics in rhythm with my asphalt pounding, power walking steps. It’s good for me. I crave these walks. So, when my friend asked me to walk with her on her mapped out trek through the streets of a strange city at 7:00 a.m., I said sure! Not really a morning walker; but, sure! Day one was good…good talk…good energy…good start to my day, coffee free…nonetheless, a good start! Tomorrow morning, lobby at 7, same route, we agreed.
Next morning, blaring off the walls alarming sounds calls us to evacuate the hotel. We all find ourselves disheveled, annoyed, expressions of bleary-eyed annoyance outside in a parking lot because of what was thankfully a false alarm. Back in our room, I open my devotional and Bible preparing to post my daily Facebook scripture and any other words God may place on my heart. I struggle.
My attention span is short, aggravated and my searching for pretty words that will bring multiple “likes” feels obligatory, shallow, and insincere.
Isn’t Facebook for the most part just “attention seeking” behavior? Let’s be honest. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, though it’s nourishing and wound-healing. But, that’s God, I’m just the typist, the vessel, the broken clay pot.
So, I tell myself, come back to this. You’ll connect with God’s word later. Go to the lobby, your friend is waiting. There she was, sleepy-eyed and same as me, “just not feelin’ it”. So, we walked; far less energetically, sharing our respective concerns about our children, our husbands, and life as we moaned and groaned about trash on the side of the road and people who seemed to be driving as if they didn’t even see us! Didn’t they know we were walking again?
Our talk continued on this frame with occasional reminders of good things we both have. My friend’s advice, “Trust the process.” is the expression I cherish most. I think she likes my “Let it happen” and “my children are not my puppets.” Kinda just words, that morning though, met with “Yeah, I know’s” that really meant…”not feeling all that advice, just let me be grouchy”.
So, on we walk…now talking about the dreaded subject of money. Specifically, how much we spend staying in hotels so that our sons can have the opportunity of their dreams…playing college baseball. Just as she’s calculating our current weekend, I glance towards the overgrown, grassy area and I see a young girl, somebody’s little girl, a daughter, God’s creation. My eyes rested on her, filling with tears.
She is thin, reddish brown hair, cascading over her backpack as she lies sleeping on her side, little girl shape, a young woman sleeping beside a busy road, hidden in the tall grass as the day begins. I touch my friend’s back,mouthing “Look.” We stop, quietly, strangely as if we are afraid we will wake her from sweet sleep, lying there, knees drawn up towards her chest. We walk, misty-eyed and I say, “Let’s pray, let’s just be quiet and pray.” We did.
Back in my room I regret not waking her, offering something, giving anything I could. I tell myself I will go back and see what I can do.
I pray again. Then, I seek solace in my devotional since I left that part of my day hanging, incomplete. I open my Bible to Psalms, always a comfort, and my eyes land on the verse God had for me all along…just in his timeframe, his schedule, his graceful and grace-filled plan.
I am overwhelmed by this providence, this plan, moments later as I drive by the spot where the girl slept and see she has awakened. She has begun her journey for this day, a journey now covered in prayer for grace because God blessed the path of my friend and I and roused us, charting our day towards gratitude and grace. Moving this lost and lonely girl towards grace, I know. I believe with all my heart.
My Facebook post for the day, posted just a little later than usual, for that day grace covered our walk:
I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. Psalm 3:5