One answer to my prayer for discipline to get myself physically in shape for the years of aging ahead has been a delightful new walking partner. This woman, who lives in the housing development across the street, meets me each weekday morning, and we do either our “short” walk (30 minutes), “high” walk (on the nearby Prairie Path; ~40 minutes) or “long” walk (3.25 miles; today we did that walk in 69 minutes—a vast improvement over when we started!).
At a certain point on the way back, we stop chatting, and one of us moves unselfconsciously into a season of prayer, making the time exceedingly rich.
A couple weeks ago, my walking partner mentioned she had memorized some passages from Scripture as an antidote to anxiety. I said, “Oh, I’d love to hear that.” She quoted two whole chapters from Acts! Everyone should have a walking partner like this. In addition to holding each other accountable to physical exercise, I can foresee myself scrambling to match memorized Scriptures with her. (I quoted four verses from a Colossians passage; she quoted another chapter—this is going to keep me on my mnemonic toes for sure!)
At one point a few years ago, our Mainstay staff had gone four pay-periods without paychecks. It was a very tense time for us. So I was observing a partial fast—a small meal every two days—and holding a noontime prayer vigil daily in the kitchen. At times like these, we begin to ask, “Are You walking with us, Jesus?” One day, I sat in silence and asked, “What is it you have to say to me, Lord? Is there something I need to hear?”
I thought I heard the inner Word, “It is coming.” So I turned to Scripture for verification, flipping the pages to Psalm 70. “Come quickly, LORD, and help me,” the psalmist cries. “I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O LORD, do not delay.” (vv. 1b, 5, NLT)
I am old enough to know there is a rhythm to the seasons in our lives. Some seasons we prosper; some seasons we taste poverty and failure. The human assignment for us all, as far as I can tell, it to learn to “dance,” to step in time to the orchestra of abundance and to step as well—learning the hidden lessons—to abasement. People in all economic levels, at all stages of education, in all work professions seem to experience these life-cycles. Our walking if filled with hills and valleys.
Frankly, I don’t know if I heard a sure inner Word on that day when I looked at these Scriptures. Nor do I know, if I did, what “it” is—“it” could be anything! “It” could be success, or “it” could be failure—both extremes hold perils. But I do know that many saints of God have trod the way of desperation before me and give testimony to the fact that they have experienced the Presence of the Unseen Who has been walking in step with them during their trying times. I really have two walking partners. One is the human woman who meets me in the mornings. The other is divine, and He meets me at points all along the day—low walks, short walks, “high paths,” and the long three-milers.
Of course, He is walking with me. If I notice it and think about it, no matter the condition of the path, we are in step.
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design training material that will teach retreat leaders how to conduct retreats of silence. In addition, she is designing a Webinar that will mentor writing wanabees. The topic of that Webinar will be Personal Memoir Writing. Details are on the Karen Burton Mains Web site, www.karenburtonmains.com.