Just past daybreak, a week after I posted “Steaming Mad” on this blog, I return to the same sidewalks I once slammed down in red-hot rage. Now I walk purposely, confidently, head held high, my face delighting in the warming rays of the sun. It’s finally winter in Florida, if only for a day, and to ward off the morning chill I’m bundled in jacket and gloves. I normally eschew hats but this morning a cozy knit cap warms me and conceals “The Beast” – my sproingy, contrary, bed head hair. Thirty-five degrees is cold, whether it’s Denver or Tampa, and I’m grateful for my mountain girl togs. A cool breeze brushes my face and I feel alive, juicy.
I start my walk next to the apartment building I lived in so long ago, and follow the path I once tore through, this time in peace, this time in prayer. I notice trees that seem to have tripled in size since I last passed by them; they canopy the sidewalks with dew covered leaves. Palm trees rattle their fronds and I’m reminded of the polite applause of Quaking Aspens when wind whispers through branches. The caw of ravens, the peculiar warble of Sandhill Cranes, the trill of Marsh Wrens fill the air. Slow moving cars maneuver through parking lots while workers tend shrubs and fences and light posts. I’m the only walker this early morning; I have the footpath to myself and I’m glad for the solitude.
I feel bold and fresh as I rebuke bad memories, dark bodings, the ghosts of “before” that threaten my current gladness. “You don’t own me! You don’t define me”, I proclaim to the past. I declare victory over past offenses – those inflicted on me and those I perpetrated – and choose forgiveness over rightness. Forgiveness erases the power of former pain; I am effervescent. I pronounce words of grace and joy and love over my life. I give thanks to God for delivering me through the darkness and bringing me into this present light and freedom.
This prayer walk batters down the last vestiges of strongholds that aim to keep me hampered and hogtied to what was. “What was” has passed and I am a new creation. I reclaim the territory where fear-filled decisions, half-baked beliefs, and chasing after false idols dragged me down into a pit of despair. Life didn’t turn out how I dreamed and planned and plotted it would be, should be. Now I am free to reimagine my future, dream a new dream, plot a new course. And I’ve gained this: patience, perseverance, and fortitude. I am this, too: God-reliant. God didn’t see fit to orchestrate a “happily-ever-after” life for me but He did abide with me, never leaving me nor forsaking me. I’m following Him fast forward into my future.
I round the last curve back into the apartment complex, past the pond with sparkling fountain, past clubhouse and pool and our old garage. I’ve walked just over two miles and I am invigorated, ripe with perspiration, and eager for “next”. From the bushes near the fence line, I catch a flash of red – a cardinal, a perfectly brilliant male cardinal. It’s been ever so long since I’ve seen one and I’m overjoyed with God’s good and perfect timing. Cardinals are my sign from God that He is with me. He was and He is and He will be. Glory be!