W&W 1: Begin!

January 1, 2019

My first WALKandWRITE was a snowshoe on the North Country Trail from AuSable Institute to just past Twin Lake Road and back. I went 1.5 miles before pausing to write. I set my alarm for 30 minutes, wrote and read.

I created my first W&W backpack by using an old cinch pack, writing Walk & Write on its back with a Sharpie. The backpack contains my W&W journal, a pen (green ink for now), my glasses, reading material, and a foam cushion to sit upon.

The book I was led to read was “By the Help of the Infinite” by Orrin William Auman published in 1928. It is a book I found at a garage sale in Traverse City. The author does not mention Jesus in the text except in the foreward where he says the teachings follow Jesus’ “revelations to the application of the spiritual life and laws that govern the universe in which we live.” May we find “The Way.”

As I explore the acronym for WALKandWRITE, I am confident this will be a good way for me to remain inspired and creative. Today the “L” from Listen stood out to me. And what did I hear? SILENCE. Glorious silence! It is a sound more beautiful than a thousand harps. Earlier on my walk I heard the peck, peck, pecking of a pileated woodpecker and stopped to take his photo.

Pileated Woodpecker Along the North Country Trail, photo by Ellen Schettling Whitehead

As I wrote, I noticed the plopping of a snow clump that landed on my shoulder. I hear my pen moving across the page. When I walk I hear my breath and the movement of my marching snowshoes as they gather snow and compress it along the trail.

A raven suddenly caw-cawed at me, breaking the current silence. Then in the distance I hear mankind as snowmobiles hum along. I see a jet stream from a faraway craft racing across the sky. And now an oak leaf fluttering in the wind.

I begin to feel the cold as I sit here in the snowy woods as it is about 15-20 degrees out…and the words of Orrin continue: “There is in the universe a personal, infinite, intelligent, spiritual presence. It is the source of life. All life moves toward its fulfillment and perfection in this Spiritual Presence which is its source.”

Reflections from my snowshoe hike flow out:

Moving along the snowy path, I march along in shoes as if I were an Ojibwa. A beech leaf, just a tawny skeleton skitters away in front of me afraid to be broken beneath the metal frames of my shoes. A raven laughs above me as I am not quiet like an Ojibwa. My shoes crunch along on modern metal frames instead of wood. They have teethy spikes protruding down to gouge the precious white snowy gift the gods have poured down.

And now I rest, read, write. Shoes resting upon a downed oak as my back rets upon its sister. Where is the fairness? Who decides which tree should fall? My breath comes heavy now, steaming up my glasses, as my bottom starts to freeze. Time to get moving again. Schuss, schuss, schussing down the trail of this thing we call Life.


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