Since moving to the Texas Hill Country, only two things keep me from seeing the sunrise – I’m either not at home, or there is a cloud curtain of gray hiding the gold and coral shimmer of daybreak. And not many things keep me from a daily walk through these hills either.
Our summertime early morning walks to avoid the heat seem to migrate to midafternoon walks in the autumn. Perhaps it’s the cooler temperatures or maybe it’s that angle of afternoon light stretching its fingers through the blushing maple trees that just seem to call our names. We lace up our shoes, grab our jackets and walking sticks, and decide which path we’ll take today. Some iPhone app counts our steps while we talk about everything from political debates to emails we received or what’s for dinner. At times, depending upon the steepness of the hill we’re climbing, our breaths may be a bit shorter, but never our conversation.
Last week, we had a most wonderful friend, Dr. Gretchen Berggren, visiting with us. She is a retired doctor having lived in twenty-six countries and worked on three continents. She and her late husband, Dr. Warren Berggren, worked together for more than forty years to improve the health and nutrition of children in Third World countries. Dr. Berggren received awards from the President of the United States and from Mother Theresa, and yet she had a walking stick in her hand, and we were stepping in stride together.
As a writer and blogger, I am ALWAYS interested in stories. And I found myself trudging up these hills almost breathless, not from the physical stress, but from the fascinating stories Gretchen was telling. She patiently entertained my questions, and one story led to another. I realized quickly she is this walking-around, breathing vault of priceless stories set in clinics, classrooms, and places you and I might fear to visit, let alone call home for a while as she did. Places like Haiti, Tunisia, Congo . . .her life indeed is the stuff of which drama is made.
A little over two miles and some forty-five minutes later, we returned the walking sticks back to their places behind the door and continued our conversation into the evening. She was with us for a couple of nights, and I long for her to return. When I walk around with her and when I sit at her feet, I feel I’m on holy ground. You see, in Gretchen and in every story she told me, there are always two threads – the golden thread of her humility and and the silver thread of her determination to live out God’s purpose in her life. Her stories teach me and inspire me.
We’re all walking-around, breathing volumes of stories. Maybe our stories are not set in exotic places, but they all have interesting characters. Never met a human yet who wasn’t interesting. All our lives are made up of our stories, stories like no one else’s. Invite a friend to take a walk with you. And while you amble along, why don’t you share a few of those stories? You might just be amazed or inspired.