I love this quote by C.S. Lewis regarding automobiles:
The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it 'annihilates space.' It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have ever been given.
The gift to which Lewis refers is, no doubt, walking. He loved to walk. In fact his favorite activities were walking the English countryside, swimming in the ocean, and sitting next to a nice fire or sitting in a pub with friends. I wonder if Lewis were alive today how many would consider him a luddite or hippie academic.
Two days ago, on my daily walk, I rounded the bend of an old dirt road. Thick moss and matted fescue lined its margins and beyond the green lush, on each side of the road, a single row of young trees made what looked like a tunnel. On either side of the road, beyond the tree line open fields rolled into the distance as far as I could see.
The wind, a common companion to me here in Oxford, moved through the trees with ferocious appetite, constant and haunting. It reminded me of this Psalm:
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. (Psalm 18:10)
What an intense Psalm. Take a few minutes and read this description of God coming to the aid of the Psalmist. Today, however, I am less interested on the actual meaning of this verse and more concerned about the concept of the Psalm itself.
How was the Psalmist, David, able to conjure such spectacular imagery? Where does this kind of reflection come from and why is our culture less interested in it than it is in the next season of Dexter?
To answer, I recall the winding road of my "thinking walk." I reread the quote by Lewis and considered what I've allowed into my life that annihilates the "space" I so need to maintain glimpses of reflection and refreshment.
On my walk I heard the wind and only the wind. I wonder how many days and nights David sat and listened, just listened, to the wind.
"Well, Tim, life goes on; most of us don't have the pleasure of such a lane to walk down. We don't even have the time to think, let alone go on a walk to do it."
Perhaps; but I'm busy too. I have chapters to write, clients to satisfy, and three young daughters, a wife and maybe soon, a dog (Please Jesus!). We're all busy, I grant that. I think, however, the question is not one of, how busy are we? Rather, it is how do we use our time?
We all possess the same amount. I wonder what would happen to our individual relationships here on earth and with our heavenly relationship as well if we decided to be more judicious with our time--to cut the noise in favor of things that take more time but minister to our spirits, things like walking, listening to the wind, reading an actual book outside in the cool or in a pub? Would they, perhaps, flourish more? Would we find the stress falling from our shoulders and into the wind?
I chose to walk. I chose to listen. I chose to eschew those devices that so easily annihilate our "space" for simpler, deeper experiences that water my life, and my spirit.
What annihilates your space? What concessions must you make even right now to gain that space back? Has the noise and the speed of society annihilated your spirit? Your relationships?
Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.