This week I had the treat of getting out of London to the countryside. I went to spend a few hours with a friend who has been coaching me, on and off, for the past six years (one of the many gifts that Tearfund has sent my way), and he suggested that we roam the wilds of the Peak District whilst talking about all the big questions life is currently throwing my way.
Do you know I walked for about half an hour before I realised that my eyes were fixed on my feet and I was missing the view? There were a lot of boggy puddles to avoid, but still. I was intent on each right step and I was missing the snowy peaks in the distance, the stark, bare trees in the foreground and the bright blue sky above. I was wasting the extravagant beauty that I’d taken so much effort to escape to. All I could see was where I was.
But when I did look up, it did my soul good. The horizon was so wide, the sky so immense, the air so clean and cool. There was space, so much space. There was no rush, no bustle, no pressure. I could breath deeply and slowly, and pause the urgent train of thoughts carolling through my mind. I thought of the organisations that I’ve been exploring working with, and the stories they tell about what matters in the world and what must be done, stories which I believe but which too quickly become all encompassing, the only stories. I caught my breath, and felt like there was something bigger.
As we slowly paced the fields and dales (is it only Yorkshire where you have dales?), the pressure to power on forwards and reach some arbitrary landmark seemed to dissolve. It’s not that there was no intended destination, but our pace was of no great importance, and it was such a shame to miss the view.
I didn’t look at my phone, not even to check the time. (But I did take a couple of pictures)
And as I savoured the gentle ramble, I realised that we (as a family) have stopped going on walks, besides the daily treks around the neighbourhood. We never seem to get organised enough to get the train to some serious greenery, and the logistical challenges brought about by taking a one year old have apparently defeated me. My parents always took us on walks as kids; there was plenty of camping, and climbing mountains. We even had proper walking boots. I bought my first adult pair in South Africa a few years ago; this week was their second outing.