By Annmarie Miles
(From the July - September 2017 issue of VOX.)
There’s a fantastic park near us. It’s my usual walking/running venue these days. It’s always kept in pristine condition and a new riverside path has just been opened, adding another option to the varied routes I like to take.
My favourite path is a tree-lined, winding avenue that leads away from the main park to some exit gates. They open out onto the main road that would take me in the opposite direction to where I live. So, when I get to the end of that path, I U-turn and go back the other way, and I always feel totally stupid doing it.
I don’t know why, but I feel anxious as I get to the gates. Inevitably, there’ll be cars stopped in traffic just outside. Drivers sit staring into the park as I do a ‘180’ as if I’ve forgotten where I was going. Or worse, another runner enters the park just as I’m about to U-turn, so it looks like I’ve taken a shine to them and decided to follow them.
It’s such a beautiful path, I can’t not take it but for those few moments as I reach the end, I dread the about-turn.
A couple of weeks ago, I THOUGHT I had the path to myself. As I got near the gates, there was no traffic and no sign of any one entering the park. I ran a few steps further than usual just to make sure that I was alone. I peeked out the gates; there was not a soul in sight. In celebration, I added a couple of dance moves to my U-turn. I did a bit of cha-cha, complete with hand flourishes, and swung around only to be greeted by two joggers, a mum walking with her little one in a pram, and a council worker doing some litter-picking - all coming towards me.
You know when they tell you to dance like nobody is watching… well, guess what? NOBODY was watching!
They weren’t taking a blind bit of notice of me. They didn’t stop, stare, or applaud (#gutted). The mum walked her little one out of the park and up the road. The litter-picker didn’t miss a beat of his whistled tune. And here’s the real kicker! The joggers got almost as far as me when they nonchalantly U-turned and headed back up the path.
And neither is God, even though I do fail… every day.
I believe it’s quite the opposite with God. I believe He is poised, loving smile ready, waiting for me to succeed. Applauding my efforts. Ready to forgive and encourage if I blow it.
So I’m off to the park. There may be running. There may even be dancing, but I’m not going to worry about who’s watching me, ‘cos I know Who’s watching over me.
Annmarie Miles is originally from Tallaght, now living in her husband Richard’s homeland, Wales. If you’d like to read more between VOX Magazines, her blog is called Just Another Christian Woman Talking Through Her Hat. The Long & the Short of it, her first collection of short stories, can be found at www.annmariemiles.com/books, or you can pick it up in Footprints bookshops in Dublin.
Illustration: Donal Casey