Of course I’m still going to talk about myself. Because that’s why I have a blog.
I went to the doctor yesterday with the delusional assumption that I’d be getting a walking boot for my foot so my life could return to normal. To continue a metaphor I’m growing rather fond of, I could get back to piloting the Death Star II on its way to destroying unsuspecting planets. Alas, those Rebel forces are relentless and the news was not good. I actually have two different fractures and the more vulnerable one is widening. If I don’t stay completely off my foot for at least 3 (!) weeks, I risk needing surgery. My scream of anguish from the Pit of Despair took the doctor by surprise. She asked: “Do you have a job or something?” “Yeah, well, something like that.” I sighed while scanning desperately around the room for sharp implements with which to impale myself.
So needless to say, I’ve been thinking about walking lately. I’ve been thinking about how much I miss it. As the great existentialist philosopher Joni Mitchell said: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Walking is something I’ve done quite unconsciously since the age of one. It’s my God-given right as a member of the bipedal species to put one foot in front of the other without giving it too much thought. Now – because it’s such a pain to get from point A to point B – I find myself thinking things like: “how much do I really want that glass of water” and also “empty bladders are overrated.”
Walking has served as a metaphor for many things in religious art and in the scriptures. Those who “walk with God” live righteously. Walking is equated with obedience (Lev 26:3), humility (Micah 6:8), and love (Eph 5:2). The whole experience of mortality is a “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). And in his covenant with Israel, the Lord says “I will walk among you and will be your God” (Lev 26:12).
I recently discovered a pair of Heironymous Bosch paintings that make me see this last verse literally as well as metaphorically. The first is a very unusual scene of Christ as a baby, learning to walk with the help of a wooden frame. He holds a toy whirligig in one hand and with the other, he pushes the frame as he takes a single step forward.
The companion piece to this painting – found on the front side of the same wooden panel – shows Christ walking up the hill to Calvary. The parallels are deliberate and obvious: the whirligig and the cross cut across both scenes at exactly the same angle, and under the weight of the cross, Christ steps with the left foot and bends the right knee and ankle behind him, almost as if completing the series of steps begun more than 30 years before. From vulnerable child to willing martyr, he walked a single path. To me, these images give new meaning to the song running through my head today:
I'll Walk with God from this day on.I think it's time to rent a copy of The Student Prince again. Is anybody willing to drive me to the video store? In the meantime, I'll have to content myself with this touching, synthesized organ version.
His helping hand I'll lean upon.
This is my prayer, my humble plea,
May the Lord be ever with me.
There is no death, tho' eyes grow dim.
There is no fear when I'm near to Him.
I'll lean on Him forever
And He'll forsake me never.
He will not fail me
As long as my faith is strong,
Whatever road I may walk along.
I'll Walk with God, I'll take His hand.
I'll talk with God, He'll understand.
I'll pray to Him, each day to Him
And He'll hear the words that I say.
His hand will guide my throne and rod
And I'll never walk alone
While I walk with God.