On Sidewalks

Raise Me Up, Lord.

I have strong feelings about sidewalks.

Having grown up in the country—so country that most of the road I lived on wasn’t paved—in that setting I have no problem with taking a walk with the dogs down the middle of the road.  Or on a leaf-strewn path through the woods.

But get me to a place where there are more cars than trees and I get more demanding about what my feet land on when I am outside and getting some fresh air.  Or rain.  Or even snow.

One year I was absolutely committed to taking a Biblical Greek class at my church.  But I had no way to get there at that time of day except by taking the bus.

So I took the bus.

Which dropped me off about a mile away from the church on a very busy street.

The bus stop was a mere smile away from the interstate, so cars streamed and screamed down from it and continued to race on their way.

And then there’s the matter of trucks.

A completely different form of horror.

Big.  Loud.  And, well, horrible.

The mad rush.

Although I will admit that when I am on the interstate and crowded into my place on it by surrounding cars, I sometimes feel like I am a cell in a blood stream.  We’re all going somewhere for the good of the body.

Circulation, with car as cell membrane.

But, to my mind, walking and busy streets do not go very well together—most especially if the pedestrian is not on a sidewalk.

My path from the bus stop to my church was most varied.  Bits of parking lots were available to me.  Even less actual sidewalk.  Some places just that kind of path worn into the grass by previous walkers, sometimes muddy with puddles, sometimes hard, sometimes unavailable because of a snow fall.

There was a kind of ditch that I would have to maneuver.  And then, when all else had been traversed, there was the last stretch: the narrowing breakdown that led to the driveway up to the church.

Arm and arm with the cars themselves.  So to speak.

These days I have my own car.  And I’m driving it.  All the time.

Almost every day of the week I drive in one direction or another for an hour each way.  And when I noticed that all this crushing confinement was taking a real, physical toll on my body I determined that when I reached my destination (either end) I would exercise.

And I do.

I walk.

The other day I walked so long that I delayed the start of the activity I was there for and had to apologize.

But today I landed in a city.  A city with neighborhoods.  The last time I took my pre-activity walk here I went down the street with all the shops on it.

Today I went in another direction, down into the world of residences and a park with swings.

And I noticed how my feet danced in delight of the sidewalk.  So when the sidewalk suddenly ceased to exist (much like the pavement on the road where I grew up) I reared up and came to a halt.

I just wouldn’t go on.  I did not want to be on the same level as a car.

A car: that zoomy, impersonal force that kills at whim and growls at you if you challenge its mission.

Yes, I’m in the crosswalk.  Deal with it.

Cars seem to have developed a mind of their own, complete with senses of self-righteousness and entitlement.

One day, after watching a baby rabbit hop under my car, I stopped with the hope of seeing it hop out the other side onto the grass.  The absolute fury of the cars behind me was impressive.

No, they weren’t willing to go around me even though that lane was empty.  So I was ultimately forced to drive on and feel the consequence of my motion under my wheel.

So, no, I’m not going to walk on a street with a car.

I am going to bless the Lord for sidewalks to walk on. 

Because sidewalks are those glorious creations of mankind that lift us up and (almost always) out of the way of the car.

Separate and above.

Safe from the prideful beasts that consider us pedestrians with the same scorn as they once did a baby rabbit under my car.

On a sidewalk I have worth.

I have merit.

And I like that a lot.

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