It’s dawn, and Africa is rising, stretching, and crowing around me. Smoke from breakfast fires winds in gray ribbons I can see from my back porch, just before the silver sliver of Lake Victoria.
But I’m going out the front this morning. I turn my keys in the gate’s lock, clanking it shut behind me. Slowly, I ascend the hill. Africa has brought out the long, flowy skirt side of my personality, and the light breeze darts in the fabric, playing hide and seek as my strides labor upward. I find a small happiness that, apart from the occasional rooster or shout of a local Ugandan, I only hear the scratch of my sandals against the path’s grit. I inhale, and simultaneously, so does my soul. This is one of my favorite ways to start my day: a walk, simply to pray.
Somehow when I try to have time alone with God at home, my children’s internal radars wake them prematurely. I am praying with the occasional, “Mom?” “Hey, Mom!” “Mom, can I get a glass of milk?” But this morning, they are slumbering, or perhaps the single riser will sit quietly at the table with a muffin, munching peacefully in the residual fog of sleep.
And I, instead, start my day with the rhythm of my steps creating an evenness about me. Somehow my feet occupy that wandering portion of my brain that tends to move more like a hummingbird, dipping and fluttering too fast for sight. It’s here that, as my heart remembers what it’s carrying, I can start my day by tilting my attention upward, by laying my deep, soul-wrenching cares there.
Perhaps my favorite stretch of our otherwise decidedly unpicturesque, concrete-hedged lane is a green meadow, adorned by the angles of a lone, pacific tree. Sometimes the tree is stalked silently by a blue-gray heron, its neck stretching and contracting into a nearly unbelievable “S.” Lord, You make all things beautiful.
And no matter how many upward-reaching hands I come home to, or the shouts that return from the sound my key in the lock (“Mom! Can I get a glass of milk?”), or the chaos that will run, wrestle, and yelp around my house until bedtime—God, on my prayer walks, tends to order my soul.