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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Take my advice. I’m not using it.

My faith, it is an oaken staff, o let me on it lean! Thomas Lynch

Last week’s blog was a cautionary tale about taking the time to really see people and to ask for their story. And, as often happens, in the middle of the night after posting, God whispers into my heart, “What a great growth opportunity for you as well, Char.” And the work begins.

For you see, writing the blog often sheds a light on my own inconsistencies. A shining goal sits out there somewhere on the horizon, and though I long to get there, I am often left trying to untie my knotted shoe laces or searching for my house keys, reluctant to actually commit to the journey.

On this day after posting, the growth opportunity began, as it so often does, with a long walk on the DeAnza trail near Canoa. As Tim and I completed the desert walk, replete with coyote sightings, he went ahead, as I stopped to take yet another picture of reflections on the lake. A full slate of activities awaited us at home, and as I turned to catch up with Tim, the “to to list” was forming in my head.

I saw my husband ahead of me talking to someone dressed for a nature walk, leaning on what appeared to be a walking stick. As I approached, I could hear their friendly conversation centered around our dog, who had cautiously and uncharacteristically stretched out her neck for a scratch.

I joined in the conversation and noted the beauty of the walking stick (a scrub oak I later found out), with insect trails and an unusual whorl pattern carved along its upper reaches. I could not restrain my curiosity.

“That is a beautiful walking stick. I would love to hear its story if you wouldn’t mind sharing.”

He replied in a soft, southern accent. “Ma’am, I would love to tell it to you if you have the time.”

I have all the time in the world, I said.

It was a beautiful, involved story. And it was about the stick and not about the stick. It began as a love story. And then it was a love lost story. And then it was about generational love. And then it was about how God provides small miracles to focus our vision and bring us hope. And then it was about the stick again.

It had helped him walk his daughter down the aisle, and it steadied him still.

When he finished, and after my tears had settled down, I said to him, “I am a songwriter, and I am apologizing in advance that your story may end up as a song someday.”

Ma’am, I would be honored, he said.

Before we left, he turned the strap of a bag he was carrying to show it to us. It was filled with his creative work, and he explained that he was a poet who came here often to walk around this lake.

But he was so much more than a poet to me.

He was a Divine interruption who appeared at start of my “busy”day when I was eager to be home. He was an angel who stopped time in its tracks so that a lifetime of memory could unfold before me in all its beauty and in all its struggles.

And he was a Light shining on my path to remind me of my own admonition to others to take the time to ask the questions and to listen deeply to another’s story.

Here’s the paradox. My time on this earth is but a breath in a major symphony. And even my next breath is not promised. That can create a sense of urgency to “get things done before my time is done.”

But in reality, I need to walk through this life like I have all the time in the world. Because when it comes to matters of the human heart, I do.

I have all the time in the world.

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Jan 10, 2023

Thank you for another beautiful reflection to make me pause. And think.


Mary Dessein
Mary Dessein
Jan 05, 2023

Thank you, Char, this is so timely and beautifully articulated~~ A walking stick with a story, perhaps a song, and a dear soul living the story each day.

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