I’m a trail runner. Which means that when I am able to find the time to run, I like to run on trails – roots, rocks, dirt, hills and all. The woods are where I find peace and I use running down a trail as a way to clear my mind and exhaust my body. It’s how I keep myself sane in the midst of a typically insane schedule.
So I’m a trail runner – but not today. Today I am walking down this trail – slowly walking down this trail, I might add. I can see two of my children out ahead of me playing with a stick and can hear one coming along behind, being bribed with jelly beans by his mother to keep walking.
This is a trail I have run on before, and when we start off walking I can tell my body is confused. My muscles and my mind are urging me to start running. To push, to go, to hurry. It feels strange today to slow down and simply walk down the trail.
But, gradually, I physically and mentally relax, and when I do, the trail opens up to me in an entirely different way. Not pushing hard and hurrying by, I see all sorts of things I have seen before but in a completely different way. Rocks, trees and flowers aren’t objects to avoid as they zoom past. They are things to look at, with beauty to enjoy. I hear and then see birds that normally I would miss because I’m breathing so hard. A huge stump I didn’t even know was there becomes a platform for playing a balancing game with my kids.
Life has a way of constantly pushing me to go faster, do more and hurry from one thing to the next, which is why I enjoy the slower pace of summer and the change of routines that come with it. I need these moments on this trail. I need to literally stop and smell the flowers and to look around and appreciate anew what I have around me. I need a change of pace to help me see the same things but with different eyes.
I remind myself often that after all His work creating, even God wanted a day to rest, to slow down and appreciate all he had done. It’s so tempting to just push on endlessly, to constantly hurry and feel pressure to do more. But in this moment, as I walk with my family slowly through the woods, I am reminded of what I miss when I do that. My life is full of struggles and busyness and challenges, but it is also full of good things that God has blessed me with. I just need to occasionally slow down long enough to enjoy them.
–The Reverend David Olson
Published in the August issue of The Record