We Interrupt This Walk

15 August 2019 - Arvada, Colorado

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” (Woody Allen)

Last Saturday I walked from south of Fountain, Colorado to downtown Colorado Springs. I had good weather (after just escaping a nasty lightning storm the day before), a light pack due to the support of my friend Randy Hickernell, and I knew I would be staying with my sister Sally and brother-in-law, Art, that evening. I was also going to be preaching twice at Chapel of Our Saviour Episcopal Church the next day. Everything seemed to be aligned. Except for the fact that I spent a good part of the 16.5 miles that I walked that day limping.

When I got to Sally and Art’s that afternoon, I prepared to soak in their hot tub and then take a shower. First, I had to take the bandage off the smallest toe of my left foot. And taking that bandage off was excruciatingly painful! I was planning to continue my walking on Sunday afternoon after preaching that morning. But I was staring right at a truth that I could not avoid.

I couldn’t walk on Sunday. I needed to go home, see a doctor, and allow some time for my toe to heal.

And so that is what I have done. I have hit “pause” on the walk, to allow time for rest and healing. I am at home for more days than I had originally planned. I am on an antibiotic for a week (since my toe was infected), I’m soaking my toe twice a day, and I’m trying not to do too much. Official diagnosis from the doctor: pressure ulcer.

I have had many different reactions to this change in plans, this interruption. One of them was, “Of all the parts of my body, one of my little toes is what is causing me to stop walking right now! My little toe!” Of course, toes are pretty important when it comes to walking. (And I think of Paul’s metaphor of the people of God as the body of Christ, and the importance of every single member of the body.)

I am disappointed that the scene that I imagined, namely walking right up to my house with my backpack on and coming through the front door - which was actually scheduled for today - did not happen. Art and Sally drove me home on Sunday afternoon, and I walked from my driveway in through the front door. (It was still wonderful to walk in and see Julia, though, and give her a great big hug.)

I am now seeing all the good things that are coming with the extra days of rest. I have more time with Julia. A friend invited me to a Rockies game yesterday, and Nolan Arenado hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the only Rockies game I will see in all of 2019. I am able to help out around the house by doing some yard work, laundry, washing dishes, and house cleaning before family arrives this weekend. I am bringing Julia her coffee in the morning again. All of this feels great! I was able to meet with my new bishop, The Rt. Rev. Kym Lucas, on Tuesday. We were scheduled for a phone conversation from the road, but I got to meet with her in person, which was so much better. I am going to meet with my clergy wellness group later today - colleagues whom I treasure and who have all been incredibly supportive of my walk. And this Saturday night will be Hannah and Brendan’s engagement party, so I will see and celebrate both of them, as well as enjoy my time with Zach and Jordan and so many other family members and friends who are coming to celebrate their engagement.

I also recognize that a number of people were giving me the same basic counsel in recent weeks. “Peter, can you take more time off when you are home to renew yourself, to rest, to recover?” But I was wanting to stick to the schedule, to do everything to the day, exactly as it had been planned.

But finally, my toe got its message through my thick skull. “Hey, what about me? Can I get the attention that I need?”

I have been keeping track of each day of the walk, not only in my journal, but also in prayer texts to family and friends. I stopped tracking the days after I got home. Julia noticed and said, “Why aren’t you listing what day it is?” I replied, “Because I’m not walking right now.” Julia: “Yes, but you haven’t walked on a bunch of Sundays throughout the walk, and you counted those days. This is all part of the walk, part of the overall experience. And I like seeing what day it is, being reminded of how many days since you began the walk.” (My wife is very wise, for those of you who have never had the opportunity to meet her.)

Today is Day 165 of the walk, my 6 Million (that will probably actually be 7.5 million) Steps for Kids.

This - THIS - is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it, and try to learn what God wants me to learn. Part of that learning is a re-learning of the importance of taking care of my body and listening to my body, “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” And, with respect to the scripture quoted above from James, I say, if the Lord wishes, I will resume the walk on Monday. If the Lord wishes, I will complete the walk in mid-November. God knows what is possible and how all of this will continue to unfold. I seek to be faithful and to do God’s will - for the sake of the children.

Meanwhile, please say a prayer for the complete healing of my left small toe. Thank you!

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