Back in December, I started walking to work. From my house to the parish is just a little under two miles. The first half of the walk is through some neighborhoods; then I cross U.S. 183 and head up West Park Street, past the Cedar Park Cemetery and a fairly large horse pasture.
I always wear my cassock, and, when I have papers or books with me, I also wear a red backpack that we had lying around the house. But since I leave pretty early in the morning – our first daily service starts at 6 a.m. – and since I sometimes don’t get home until around 7 p.m., my family bought me one of those reflecting vests. You know, the kind that the highway department guys wear. But then some parishioners also gave me a small, very bright light to put on my backpack. So, when I’ve got my entire outfit on – the black cassock, the orange vest with the florescent stripes, and the red backpack with the bright light – the effect is pretty odd.
But I’ve been really surprised at how many people have stopped and asked me if I want a ride. Of course, a few folks just slow down and stare, and, one day, as I was walking through Park Place Park, a young man watched me for a few minutes, and then he yelled, “Who are you?” But, for the most part, people have been very kind and friendly.
The deer, on the other hand, are totally freaked. Since I do a lot of my walking in the early morning or just after sundown, I often see five to ten deer every single day. Now these animals are so accustomed to automobiles, they don’t even react to them any more, but, when I walk by, they stand bolt upright, and they freeze, and they all stare at me with these dumbfounded expressions. It’s as if they’re thinking: “OhmyGod they can actually walk!”
And I’ve been walking in all kinds of weather: when it’s cold, when it’s raining, when it’s windy, when it’s hot (of course, it hasn’t even started to get real hot yet). But that brings up the question which just about everyone has been asking me: Why am I doing this?
It’s not a fitness thing. I have dropped a few pounds but, let’s face it, if I were trying to somehow get in shape, I would get some of those super-duper shoes and some color-coordinated spandex and maybe some hand weights. I would probably look more normal in that kind of outfit, but that’s not why I’m walking to work.
It’s really not an eco thing, either. I’m not trying to make a statement about global warming or our reliance on fossil fuels. I’m not trying to make everyone who drives feel guilty. I’m sure the fact that I’m in my car a whole lot less is good for the environment, but that’s not why I’m walking to work.
A lot of folks have just assumed that it’s a spiritual thing. And I suppose, in some ways, that’s true. Walking and prayer go together really well. And when I’m waiting to cross 183, it’s almost impossible not to pray for that torrent of tired and stressed humanity that is rushing past me.
But the reason I’m walking to work is actually much simpler and, in many ways, much more profound.
I’m walking just because I like to.
I like to see the early morning stars and the late afternoon sun. I like the smell of the trees and the horses and the freshly watered lawns. I like to listen to the traffic and the trains. I like the way the wind feels on my face and the way the rain looks as it spots up my glasses. All that just makes me happy.
But that’s not at all a selfish thing, because, when I’m happy, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are also happy. And when the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are happy, that’s called glory. St. Irenaeus of Lyon once wrote that “the glory of God is man fully alive” and, when I walk to work, I am absolutely, totally, 100 percent, fully alive: my heart is beating and my lungs are working and the muscles in my legs are stretching back and forth, I’m making other folks smile and shake their heads at the outlandish outfit I have on, I’m surprising the deer, and all that glorifies the Most Holy Trinity; all that makes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit really happy.
I hope there’s something in your life that makes you happy. And if there isn’t, I hope you find that something soon. In the meantime, if you see a guy in a black cassock with a florescent orange vest and a bright light on his back, headed down West Park Street or cutting across Park Place Park or waiting for the light to change at 183, that’s just me. Fully alive. Glorifying the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Source: Fr. Adrian,
St. John the Forerunner Church