The crisp crunch my steps on the newly fallen snow soothed me. It had been too long since I’d pioneered a pristine landscape. The lingering snowfall melting on my cheeks hid none of the sparkling gems dancing under the street lights.
Sound, sight, touch, senses attuned to the moment. Quite measured paces syncopating with vaporous puffs of my breath.
It doesn’t get much better than a walk in the first snow of the season. In my childhood I had to walk – to the bus stop, the library, and the local mom and pop grocery store (the closest thing we had them to a convenience store). And shovel. Did we have a long wide driveway!
Not today. Using my Fitbit as an excuse I ventured forth. Alone, my spouse risked not a slip and fall. Initial aloneness shifted to contentment. Undisturbed quiet and calm seemed a rarity; this walk refreshing.
The streets in my subdivision form a large “E”. My home is at the top corner at the junction of the top line with the back. I usually walk from the top cross street to the bottom and then back up. Today I wanted a longer walk so when I completed the bottom leg, I turned around.
That piqued the interest of the two boys playing under a street light. At that moment it looked more like sitting in the snow, but the footprints around them boded a temporary hiatus in their play.
“Hey mister, why do you like walking in the snow?” one of them asked. Good question I thought, a better one would be, why do you like sitting in the snow? Rather than ask I replied, “it’s pretty and it’s quite.”
That seemed to satisfy. “We’re brothers, but I live in Texas.” Somber story, but it provided as partial an answer to my unspoken question as my response to their verbal one.
Such a fleeting conversation to get me thinking. Why did I enjoy walking in the snow? The boys focused on the snow, but to me the benefit rested with the walking, and not even primarily in that.
My life is packed with people, activities, and things. Not just my external environment, but also – more so I believe – my inner landscape is cluttered. Full of regrets, hopes, longings, sadness, grief, duties, and obligations. I read a fitting description – a noisy soul.
Much of the plethora of things I collect, the hobbies in which I engage, and my overfull “to-do” list emanates from a desire to silence my noisy soul. I’ve found this strategy wanting. Instead of silencing my soul I add to my inner cacophony.
I have discovered a quiet walk, on the other hand, stills the noise within. By removing myself from physical clutter I allow the inner clutter to speak. Much of the noise of my soul is childlike. Longing just to be heard, acknowledge, and even welcomed.
So, amid the rhythmic crunching of the snow, I think. About God’s blessings in my life. About my plans and how to improve or discard them. About the story or blog I am writing. About my regrets and how or if I can remedy them. About the clutter and what I can release.
The boys are gone now. So is that early snow. I still walk. I say it’s for health reasons. But it is actually for my noisy soul.
In the quiet my soul speaks.
So in busyness my soul rests.
My rhythmic steps repeat. Almost the patter speaks.
“Be still, my noisy soul.”