Snail Crossing – Beware! Or: Just Another Ugly Duckling Day

Compelled.

It’s the only word I can claim for my actions this morning.

Too. Many. Thoughts.

I pulled on the clothes and walked into the misty day.

As I looked up to the top of the hill I used to walk regularly, all I could hear was

It’s been a long time …

getting from there to here …

Darned you to heck, Scot-Bakula-Faith-of-the-Heart-Star-Trek-Enterprise-theme-song.

But with each step, I felt better, stronger. I needed the walk and was thankful I’d listened to that which compelled me.

After turning the corner to head north, I started thinking of snippets from last week’s message. About how our minds turn to the negative … instead of the Little Engine Who Could, I had the IknowIcan’t IknowIcan’t IknowIcan’t mantra running as I slogged my way toward the top of the hill for the first time in too long.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other and in between huffs and puffs as the incline increased I had to chat with the Creator, which sparked another snippet of chorus.

Why don’t you

have a little talk with Jesus,

tell Him all about your troubles …

The snails were out, in force. I don’t think I’d seen that many ever during my time here.

They were a comfort because they reminded me to slow down, be careful, watch my step.

And to take one at a time.

I reached the corner of Verdemont Street and thought again that I wouldn’t make it, that I should give up and go back down. My muscles had grown unfamiliar with the rhythms of the street, spoiled by the treadmill at the gym.

No pre-programmed incline beats a natural hill.

I leaned into the upward lean of the roadway and used my protection stick as an actual walking stick, wondering if I could slide back down to the bottom because of how slick the sidewalks were with the light rain.

I got to Melvin Street and paused, again thinking I wouldn’t make it.

… minute by minute …

I be holdin on …

Darned you, Doobies.

I made it.

The thrill of victory. I made it to the top of the hill, rain and all.

I was suddenly compelled to go a bit further. Instead of starting my slippery descent, I walked to the sign that marks the start of the national forest, which is a few feet up.

I turned to go back down but was again compelled to return to the spot where the last photo was taken to grab a rock.

I have a small rock garden and each one is from an important moment. Towns visited, beaches wandered, neighborhood epiphanies discovered.

The moisture and grit from the rock felt … meaningful … in ways I couldn’t discern.

I suspect that Stephen R. Donaldson wrote each part of the Thomas Covenant series after long walks in the rain.

The Land has a glammor upon it that I cannot descry … most assuredly not … 

I almost killed myself a couple of times coming down. Okay, more like I almost fell because the sidewalk was like glass. I had to walk in the street on the asphalt to keep my feet. I felt cumbersome, ungainly as I seemed to feel every seam of every stitch of clothing I had on since picking up a few pounds. Rather hideous in that moment.

The snail was holding on tight as the torrent washed by. I’d seen it on the sidewalk as I made my laborious way up. In the time it took me to heave myself to the foot of the forest and then slippety slide part-way down, the snail had gotten off the sidewalk and into the waters.

The snail’s resilience inspired me, gave me a bit of pep in my step.

Like the characters in Donaldson’s books, I felt energized by the outdoors that drenched me to the skin and chilled me to the point of having almost a runny nose. But it was a good chill, a good runny nose. The asphalt was like stone beneath my feet that spoke truth to my spirit, a la Covenant’s Land …

By the time I got within five blocks of my house, I was nearly floating, strengthened by my time outside. As though I’d had some aliantha or springwine (if you don’t know Covenant, you do need to read it). If it weren’t for the muggy, 100+ degree days, I might have decided to cancel my gym membership all together.

So it begins anew.

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