I am consumed by the modern-day malaise that is exclusive use of the car. I drive here, I drive there, I drive everywhere.
Some of you are already clawing at your monitors in paroxisms that as a vicar I must live next door to the church - but that is not the case here. I live about twenty minutes away of a walk - which I very rarely do.
Yesterday saw the family opt for a meander into town. Mrs Acular was on a mission to obtain frilly girliefied flip-flops for the Twins Aculae and so it was my job to grunt some sort of noise of assent, smile, and toddle along with the posse of Cloakettes. And so it was, ladies and gentleman, that Fat Curate Cloake hauled his bulk off of the Acular Sofa and in a style befitting Jabba the Hutt, and slithered into the metropolis on shoe-buying duties.
The thing is, I love walking. I have walked the West Highland Way twice, Ben Lomond twice and Ben Nevis in a respectable 2hrs 40mins - and used to walk everywhere (largely because I didn't pass my driving test until the fifth go), and when not in clericals look like a refugee from Millets. A walking holiday, for me, is where it's at. Yes, I prefer to glide, but what fool wouldn't, but in ordinary time, a walk is a great thing. But I forget ...
Yesterday, walking at the pace that a couple of four-year olds employ meant that I became familiar with every leaf on every bush and its concomitant flower. The kids have a considerable appetite to know not just about every thing, but everything. Daisies, dandelions, discarded condom packets, feathers, leaves alive and dead, conker trees, clouds, rose bushes in gardens and the colour of the front doors that shared those spaces, that slightly awkward moment when they happened past a slightly soggy magazine page of some young lady showing us exactly where her babies emerge from, some berries, a kitten, yet more leaves, buttercups, stones, even smaller stones, gravel, grit, sand, dust - and all before we got half way to town. That in itself is a joy - and as I have said before here, the world through the eyes of children is a potent and beautiful one. Even litter, when looked at with fascinated eyes, is a story and a conversation with a little one.
I also readily forget how walking is like effervescent water. While the legs do the work, my head was firing off a million thoughts. I thought of four blog posts in the half mile I walked, pondered the move, the family's place in all of that and my duties to them, a sermon in formation for Sunday - and so on. Or else I could have climbed into the car and listened to half a track of my favourite CD and been there in a fraction of the time. Walking is a great thing in and of itself, but as a spiritual discipline I cannot commend it more highly.
I have no doubt that some of you will be militant ramblers and that my words are some form of grotesque confession. I am, sadly, not alone. How many of us, I wonder, drive more and walk less - even those walkable journeys which may commit you to more time that you just don't have enough of? So much did I enjoy my walk that instead of the exciting bus ride back home that the ladies were taking (we don't expect them to walk both ways just yet), I chose to walk home at the atomic-speed that I always walk when left to my own devices. I beat the bus, and I thought a millions thinks that would have never been thought in a million years otherwise. Wonderful!