Thursday, October 13, 2005

JK: Look Up

One of the joys of living eleven miles from a paved road is a quiet early morning walk with my dog, usually with Brody (or Mr. Pig) and the younger pup, Fritz. But I often put it off thinking I really need to get in to my writing space and write! It’s my job, after all, right? But the dogs bark and tug at my sleeve so I head down the driveway dribbled with rocks, walk around the steep padlock turn and then up the sixteen percent grade (the place where I mashed my foot on top of my husband’s so he raced 70 miles an hour down that roller coaster grade while I shouted at him to stop!) on up to the first cattle guard.

Usually, I’m keeping my face to the ground, watching for rocks since the uneven ground still plays havoc with my foot (ala airplane accident residual). And that’s what I was doing, keeping my eyes peeled to the ground, head down, hat shading my eyes when I heard the tell-tale buzz, a sound once heard that is imbedded in one’s blood stream.
I looked up and there it was, all coiled, the rattler letting me know I encroached.

Somehow, the dogs had lumbered right on by and stayed well above us on the grade, sitting, watching the scene below play out.

I tossed a rock the snake’s way and it slithered beneath a sagebrush and I could go on, maneuvering my way around it.

Two things resulted from that encounter: I was reminded to keep looking up; and secondly, that things change. I’d once been so afraid of encountering a rattlesnake that I didn’t even want to follow my heart (or my husband) to this land 52 miles from the nearest pizza place. But even fears are reduced to a manageable size if we listen to the warning signals and find a way around them. Our fears don’t have to hold us hostage.

Mostly, my walks are uneventful, times for peaceful prayer, inhaling clean air. But in the silence, story ideas get plotted out and filled in, with sagebrush looking on as silent editors. The river swirling over smooth rocks and the pant of the dogs are the only sounds breaking into the calmness of the morning. But instead of a dozen thoughts bombarding me at once, I can hear that inner voice.

Perhaps that’s why I resist going out there, think my “work” is to write. My work, I’m convinced, is to engage, to be aware, to listen to God’s calling and convey it on the page. Today, it said “look up” and I am grateful.

Jane Kirkpatrick, A Land of Sheltered Promise and her memoir Homestead.


At 7:17 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great reminder. Writer's need to engage.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Traci DePree said...

I think I'll take a walk on this foggy day in Minnesota. Thanks, Jane.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Joanne Annette said...

Sweet, you have a dog named Mr. Pig? Or is that a... pig or something?

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Donna-Jean Breckenridge said...

Now I know where Mazy's dog's name comes from :-)

(Just finished it - and enjoyed 'living' the journey with those women!)

Thanks for some wonderful thoughts today.


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