Walking the Dog….Talking to God

coldWhen I got my dog three years ago on Valentine’s weekend, I made a promise to her that I would walk her for an hour every day. I had read in Cesar Millan’s book that walking your dog was the best way to bond with them. He recommended walking them a minimum of 1 1/2 hours a day. I didn’t really think I had time for that, so I settled on the hour a day. I got up every morning that first year or so and fixed my tea in a travel mug and took her out first thing. Every morning, she and I walked – sometimes leisurely, sometimes fast – from 5:30 AM – 6:30 AM.

I ended up loving it as much as she did. She forces me to walk her now. She got so used to it that she won’t just go do her business in the backyard. I can’t be lazy. I HAVE to walk her – rain…snow…drizzle…cold…windy…late for work.  I’m also a runner, so some days we run instead of walk. I actually love the winter walks better than the summer ones. There was is something very cozy about dressing up really warm in my coat, gloves and hat and greeting the winter morning with my frosted breath and sleepy eyes. It has become a time for me to talk to God and just be quiet. Well, there is the occasional correction of my dog, but that is all that breaks the natural sounds of the morning.

This past year, I haven’t done it as religiously. In the last 3 – 4 months, I’ve been attempting to get back in the habit, but with work travel and personal travel, I keep getting interrupted. Now, I have some home time where I can really get back into the habit. Yesterday, I balked. It was snowing and icy out. I didn’t want to get wet. We did our quick walk to take care of business, and I went back in. This morning, though, I got up, fixed my coffee and half and half in a stainless steel mug, donned my Land’s End down parka over my fleece pants and long-sleeved shirt, my leather gloves and my warmest winter hat.

The morning was absolutely beautiful, and I remembered why I liked doing this. Even though it was hard to climb out of my warm bed that is heated by an electric blanket and two warm kitties, it was worth it to see today’s morning. The full moon was out as it was still night at 5 AM. I kept seeing these really beautiful scenes that caused me to wish I’d brought my camera. The snow-covered ground lit up by the Christmas lights in the Central Gardens neighborhood looked so serene and beautiful. I talked to God a bit about wanting to refocus my priorities this year. I passed the Episcopal Church down the street just as the full moon hovered overhead the steeple, lighting it up and framing the cloudline above. The apartment building owner at the corner of McLean and Peabody had left their fountain on overnight, so the sparking water was flowing over crystalline icicles that hung like a chandelier on the three-tiered fountain. Someone had lit it from underneath with Christmas lights, so the water and the ice reflected the red, green and gold lights, increasing their shine and color threefold.

cold5My dog, of course, wasn’t interested in any of this. She was just glad to sniff all along the way, stopping every now and then to cover another dog’s scent with her own and to do her morning business. She loves the snow, though. We got to Central Christian Church, and I let her run loose in the unbroken blanket of snow on the grounds. She took off running in circles, glancing up at me as if to say, “Watch me!” I did. When she finally got finished, panting and displaying what I know was a huge grin, I put her back on the leash and we started the walk home.

I felt particularly blessed with this morning. The morning was more beautiful than usual. It’s such a treat to have snow, especially when homes are decorated for the holidays. It just seemed like every time I looked, the scene was like something out of a picture book. I was actually glad I didn’t bring my camera. Cameras take me out of the moment. They also never quite capture the scene like my eyes and heart see it. It does allow me to share the moment, but some moments aren’t meant to be shared with anyone except those that are present. This morning, God, my dog and I tasted the sunrise together. It was really sweet.

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