When Childen Take Their Papa for a Walk
Today started out as being the first time I would take “B” and “C” on a contemplative (nature walk) at Prince of Peace Abbey. By the time we packed up after the dusty midday stroll, I found it was a much different experience than anticipated.
During our walk to each station of the cross, I was amazed at how “B”, who will be five soon, could “read” the stations of the cross with a little help. It was clear to her when the Lord received help to carry the cross, and when the “men hit Jesus”, were “mean to him” and when others “are praying for him”. At each station, I challenged her to “see if you can tell me what the picture says.” After some brief discussion, it was on to the next. The day was warm, sun was bright and the view was peaceful, as we listened for the small birds fluttering by as we walked, talked and held hands. Moreover, it was such a blessing to hear “B” say, “Hurry, let's see what the next one says” and watch both her and her sister break free and run to the next station. These precious moments were punctuated with, “I'm tired...I want water...It's hot.” Those little voices seemed to echo the voice of Jesus' own path, only with him, there were few to give any comfort or concern.
As we walked from station to station, “C” didn't appreciate all the “bees” (flies) that flew about her; but drawing her attention to “Let's see who can find the next bird, or butterfly” seemed to help distract her from the minor discomforts that go with nature walks (heat, sun, dust, etc.).
It was a little difficult for me to point out the burial ground of the Abbey's former brothers who were buried at the Abbey's cemetery, each under his respective cross, and even more difficult to answer the question, “Will we all be there someday, Papa?” But, the sting of death was made easier in reminding her and myself, “We will all be with Jesus” and “It is only our bodies buried, not our souls” (It shouldn't be too long before I will need to share these thoughts again when “C” is older. I suspect it will not be easier).
Their enthusiasm to “Let's go pray in the church” after our walk was a joy. And, I thought to myself, “If this is just a small portion of what heaven is like, the joy to come is incomprehensible.”
“C” (soon to be three), modeled after her sister in the presence of our Lord, as each knelled down in an uncoordinated attempt to respect the silence of the sanctuary. With their little hands folded together, and looking to me for approval before our Father, I was moved to humbly ask God, “Please help me to be a better father so this lasts.”
What started out as a nature walk turned into a time of fellowship between my sweet daughters, God, his creation and the awareness that the sense of love that flows from such fellowship can only be had in making the time for moments such as this.
Thank you, sweet daughters, for taking me on a contemplative walk and helping me to have a better appreciation for our joy together and that which awaits.