An Anniversary Walk

Yesterday was the kind of day a writer who wants to show off their vocabulary would describe as lugubrious. I prefer dreary. Not because I’m better than that other writer, but because dreary feels more literary. For me at least, it evokes scenes from Dickens, Jane Austen, and the Brontës, where some character goes for a walk on a dull grey day.

I had every intention of skipping my evening walk yesterday — partly because I was feeling under the weather, partly because I enjoy watching the sunset and there was no hope of that. Except for a brief peek around midday, the sun had hidden his visage all day. It really did feel like the second stanza of Sonnet XXXIII:

Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace.

Shortly after teatime, I spotted a golden streak on my west-facing bathroom wall. The sun had emerged from under a blanket of clouds and was beckoning me to come and watch it set.

I stood there debating whether to go or not to go. It looked like a glorious sunset, but I’ve seen many glorious sunsets in my time, and no doubt I will see others if the Lord lends me life. And then the Holy Spirit did something only He can do.

He reminded me that it was the tenth anniversary of one of the most significant prayer walks of my life.

That’s all I needed to snap out of my indecision. Knowing I had to commemorate that walk, especially on this milestone anniversary, I stepped into my shoes and stepped out of the house.

The ten-year-old walk the Holy Spirit had reminded me of happened on the eve of my father’s first death anniversary, a freezing December day in England. I was walking through the snowy woods not far from my hall of residence at Keele University. I had felt increasingly depressed all afternoon, and by the time I entered the woods I was weeping.

“My faith is dead,” I sobbed, angry with myself for letting my faith die like the leaves beneath the snow. Only a few days before, these same leaves had formed a thick, bright carpet that crackled merrily underfoot; but now, black and shriveled, they soiled the soft white floor. And worse than how they looked was how foul they smelled. The odor reminded me of my faith, which was not just dead but reeking.

I was trudging along with a downcast face, hoping I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew, when out of the grey winter’s silence the Lord spoke.

“Do you believe that these leaves will come back to life?”

I was taken aback. I had not been expecting the Lord to say anything — unless perhaps to chide me. But He had spoken, and suddenly I was engaged. I thought for a moment and replied, “Yes. In spring.”

“Then can you believe that your faith will come back to life?”

That I could believe! I didn’t know when spring would come, but I knew that it would come. So I said yes. And because God gives life to the dead things, spring came, and my faith came back to life.

(c) 2020 Sharon Arpana Edwards. All Rights Reserved.

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