I took my dog out for a walk today. Duke, is a 16-year old dachshund and lives an increasingly leisurely life these days. When we go for a walk, he still occasionally runs, trots often, but has really perfected the slow, stop-and-smell-everything saunter. We’re not in a hurry, we’re not focused on getting anywhere; we just meander. But, because I am so much bigger than he is and my stride is so much longer, my meandering pace is often a complete standstill as I wait for him to catch up.
These walks with Duke have taught me to slow down, to be patient, to notice things – like the light dancing on the grass or the song of a migrating bird lilting through the air that I hadn’t heard before. Gems like these are unnoticeable the faster I go. Warp speed living is like fast driving: the field of vision narrows the more we accelerate. When we slow down, the field expands and opens up again, increasing what we are able to take in and experience.
The noticing was just glorious today as we walked. The Crape Myrtles are on the downside of their epic full blooms. These are trees that love the Texas heat. When most everything has succumbed to the summer swelter, they are busy blooming big poofs of clustered flowers in bright red, pink, lavender, or white. Their show is on display for a long time; several weeks.
But a really beautiful thing happens right about now, when the trees start to drop their blooms. The sidewalks, streets, and grass become strewn with the individual little flowers. It’s as if these trees are inviting me into the sweet remembrance that the place I am standing upon, as well as every space in every place, is holy ground. Every time we passed under one of these trees today, I felt like The Universe was scattering my path with flowers, honoring me, saying, “Keep walking forward, I’m with you, and I’m celebrating your path with you.”
Every few hundred feet, when we came to the next tree, I was reminded of the lover/beloved themes in Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of the heart. On the bhakti path (which consists of things like poetry, chanting, dance, art) Yoga – that is, experiencing our conscious unity with Infinity – is often talked about like a wedding celebration, the uniting of the lover and the beloved. With every step I took under these trees, I became the bride, walking down the flower-scattered aisle again and again in union with The Divine.
It got me thinking about my path and about the path that each of us is on in our lives. Our path is ours alone; no one can walk it for us. No one can tell us what it is or how to navigate it. Walking the path is a curvy, windy, tangled up journey and we can usually only see a few paces ahead, at best. We’ve walked through a lot of things; moments when the path was clear and the footing was sure, and moments when the path was obscured and overgrown with brambles. Some of these steps were under the sunny, cloudless blue sky and some of there were in the dark, stormy nights. But all of our steps are sacred, even the ones we wish we hadn’t taken. Each step has led us to the next step and into a brand new place we haven’t been before.
If every place is holy ground, as I was reminded of today, then that means that there’s no spot where God is not. And that means that everything is part of the sacred path, the sunny places and the dark places. Not only is everything part of the path, but everything IS the path. We’re on the path, we’re creating it with every step, and no matter what, it’s impossible to fall off of it. We’re constantly walking down the aisle with The Beloved in all we do, co-creating each moment; but the more we speed up, the more we forget.
What if, at least for just one standstill moment today, we would be willing to scatter flowers of remembrance on our path? What if we took a few sacred seconds of conscious pause to honor our limited time on this Earth, to remind ourselves to walk in beauty, to walk humbly, with love and with divine purpose; to slow down and savor this journey? It could change everything about our next step.