I love my neighborhood.
No that's not true. I love my neighbors.
Each evening I walk the banks of our block with a rosary in my pocket, a prayer on my lips, fear for my feet in my fists, and I greet the people who matter to me. I hear about the absence of training wheels and victorious baseball games and flowering gardens and forthcoming trips and satisfying days and I smile in gratitude to my God.
I pray for my neighbors each day. I pray she'll get into school and he'll be healthy. I pray that it won't rain for a sale. I pray we're happy and safe. I remind Him that we're here. And that we're afraid. And that we try. And I measure my steps as my conscience reminds me that I can't justly ask for more. I cross each corner and concerns cross my mind while my back is caressed with the croons of giggled echoes of playfilled children. And I walk into my house and I take off my cap and I thank my God that we're blessed.
My stride hasn't always been so supported. I know what it's like to stand on a street of strangers with no smiles to salve the sorrows of my day. I know what it's like to pocket my palms because no man offered me a fair shake. I know what it's like to cast down my eyes because my pride told me I was downcast. I've known lonely. I've known alone. I've known being unknown.
My stride was sorrowful tonight. My foot hasn't healed. I know my walks must come to their end. I can't take a stroll anymore. So tonight I silently sighed goodbye as my feet took the steps that my mind told me weren't necessary.
I finished my walk and I sat on my porch and I stared at the pavement. I pouted and spouted my sorrow in prayer. And then I felt ashamed. I silently sat on my porch for months while I healed in my past. I saw the sun. I felt the shine. I watched the strollers. It was lovely.
I forget it's not about me. Tonight, I remembered that. So I offered penance for my pride. I know it doesn't matter if my feet can manage to meander. It matters if my prayers can reach the ears of God. I know that acts of true faith are the greatest feats a man can accomplish. I know it's more important to fall to your knees than to rise to your feet.
Next week I'll turn another year older. I had to renew my driver's license, so last week I went to the DMV. My new license arrived today. I pulled my old license from the calfskin and I put it alongside of the new. I noticed I wore the exact same clothing in each photo: same yellow slicker, same gray hoodie. I looked at my face. I've aged. I laughed to myself and wondered if I'm in a rut. Perhaps.
Maybe God wants me to follow a new path. It doesn't matter whether I get there on my knees or crawl there with my fingers. It just matters that I push forward. I'll push forward. Tonight I remain undefeated.