A Walk Across Iowa on the Old Lincoln Highway: Day #1
Greetings! I know that yesterday I wrote something about discussing my walking stick; however, I have another reflection to share with you this evening. (Besides, that so-called inanimate object and I had some words today!)
I walked along the four-lane divided highway east of DeWitt today. It was safe with a wide shoulder (although, on one occasion, the wind from one semi blew the cap right off of my head); but I was thinking about what it means when we wave to each other. I can tell you that, when I initiated a wave to a driver, everyone almost always responded in kind (well, there was one truck driver who lifted only one finger and, because I couldn’t tell which finger it was, I will consider that one a “maybe”!) – anyway, I tried to be very intentional with my waves (you remember the quotation – “walking cheerfully over the earth”). I know that waving is a midwestern thing to do… but I was wondering whether it is simply an automatic reaction (sort of like lifting your foot off of the accelerator when you see a state trooper even if you are not speeding) or whether it is a thoughtful and friendly gesture of goodwill.
Perhaps it depends upon the person and the situation… but it causes me to think about my own automatic pilot. Mindfulness is about making choices moment by moment—and not simply living as if we are on an automatic set of reactions. Is it possible that even our smallest of interactions with others could be laced with a genuine intention of kindness? When we greet someone in the store – someone we don’t even know, is it possible that this is an opportunity to speak to that of God in another? If we hold the door to allow someone else walk through first, might this be a moment of honoring that of God in someone we don’t even know? Could a wave to a stranger—knowing it is very likely that we will never meet them again, be a tiny spiritual moment of great affirmation, respect, friendliness, good cheer?
One of my favorites by Stephen Grellet: “I expect to pass this way in life but once. Therefore, if there be any of God’s kindness I can show, any of God’s goodness I can do, let me not withhold or defer it; let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” This is quite the quotation to consider as one walks across the state of Iowa on the Old Lincoln Highway!
Did you know that the Lincoln Hotel in Lowden (where I walk through tomorrow) was built in 1915 with various innkeepers until 1980, was vacate for about a decade, purchased for preservation in 1991, renovated in 1995, and since 2001 now functions like a B&B with five spacious suites?
Today I met Laura in DeWitt; in fact, I had a wonderfully delicious dill cucumber beef sandwich at her Garden Café, one of her two restaurants (the other being the Whisk Away Café & Bakery). It was a great hour of replenishment—rest for the feet and legs, nutrition for energy, and an emotional boost in the opportunity of meeting people!
Today I learned that I am gradually moving into the experience of the mindfulness of paying attention to my safety while, at the same time, can also experience the awareness of other matters to which I can pay attention… both externally in the creation through the five senses as well as internally with thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations (my body has some important things to tell me).
Today I am grateful for the privilege of talking about men and mental health; and I am grateful for the Center, which makes it possible to work with those who would be unable to receive counseling services otherwise!
P.S. I have saved up 14 of my “gratitude marbles” – this is another story that some of you may know (but one marble a week over the past 14 weeks)… and I am leaving one behind each day. The first evening it was in a ditch just east of Elvira… you know, Iowa ditches are very common so it seemed appropriate. And today was in a creek just east of DeWitt. My weekly marble is a small reminder I carry in my pocket about being thankful; nurturing gratitude is transformational in my life!
For more information and more posts, please see Mark’s homepage: dmpcc.org/WalkwithMark
Everyone is invited to “Walk with Mark” by helping him reach his goal to support quality mental health services for boys and men. Supporting his 331-mile trek is easy as 1-2-3:
- Walk with Mark via his blog on the Center’s website or Facebook page.
- Walk with Mark by joining him for part of his itinerary.
- Walk with Mark with a donation to the Center for the counseling assistance fund.