This trail of two or three miles curves beside the Trinity Strand, a creek given to historical flooding. It is near the Interstate and yet, like most city trails, one quickly feels removed from urban life. Because of its near proximity to my home—and on account of a nifty coffee shop at one end of it—I walked it frequently before going to Spain on pilgrimage. Recently I returned to it for the first time since my return.
When you are walking, your attention goes back and forth from the immediate to the distant. This is how, it seems, walking can help us resolve things that are on our mind. They come to the surface, but our attention to them is interrupted by what we see on the trail. That back-and-forth, taking place while the body is in the simple motion of one step after another, is the key that unlocks a new depth of understanding.
Since I had been away from it for over half a year, the Trinity Strand Trail (TST) was mostly a route of remembrance, yet the things I saw (and remembered) brought fresh emotions. Here are a few of them.
There is a long wall that has quality graffiti. I don’t know how it is preserved from defacement, but one feels a certain happiness that it is still there. One piece is arranged around the word “City,” although the reader has to look awhile to figure out how to read it: Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city. (The word “city” is not repeated in the mural, but pointed to from both sides of that exhortation.) Beside it is another work in an idiom strange to me; I think it has to do with east Asian video games. Beside it, and the only new piece, were some Christian inspirations from a non-denominational church.
Around the bend and on another blank wall is an ad for the restaurant that is inside the building. This restaurant has a name that makes me smile. Not all is lost with regard to apostrophes! The name? Mama’s Daughters’ Diner.
Elsewhere on this trail is the Dallas Circle of Heroes, a memorial to the five police officers shot and killed July 7, 2016. One plaque gives a brief account of the event; five other plaques give bios of the officers. The circle of monuments, the flag pole, and the simple provision of place to sit and reflect seems both simple and fitting. Even as we walk, the pain of the world, the wrongness of things, and the courage of others comes along with us.
That too has its own emotional quality.
Out & About. Sunday, September 18, at 10:20 a.m., I'm to teach a class on "Service" in the Book of Common Prayer. This is my contribution to a semester-long class on Christian service; the organizers knew of my love of the BCP and were interested in what I might draw out about the topic. I'm interested too ... the research has already been a pleasure and I look forward to sharing the results. This class will be in the education building of Church of the Incarnation, Dallas.
That evening, also at Incarnation, at 5 p.m., the Good Books & Good Talk seminar will discuss J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. On a rather literal level, this is a book about walking; Bilbo Baggins's title for his memoirs is "There and Back Again." I hope you enjoy reading the book and that you'll be able to join the conversation. It runs to 6:30.
More properly focusing on humans as pedestrians, the fall theology lecture will be on “The Theology of Walking” with reflections (and, one hopes, pictures) from the Camino de Santiago. This is set for Sunday evening, October 9, at 5 p.m., also at Incarnation in Dallas.
On the Web. I was able to fill in on short notice at Good Shepherd Church in Cedar Hill, Tex., a couple of weeks ago. My sermon was delivered without notes, on Jesus' healing of a woman who had been afflicted for 18 years (Jesus says, afflicted “by Satan”). I weave in the "Satan" of Job, so it's a bit of a wild ride. Click here to hear it.