With the exception of my iPhone, I deliberately left my camera behind during a long hike at Castlewood today — which was weird for me. But I decided to try something new. I used today’s hike as a walking meditation. The idea was to relax, focus on nothing, but be aware of everything. As a result, each step and each breath became a gesture of gratitude. 
Slowly but surely, I felt completely peaceful. And I was fortunate enough to see so much goodness along the way. Twice I encountered a man with his three children who ranged in age from probably three and five. The first time I saw them, they were sitting on a bench along the bluff overlooking the river. He was telling them a story in a gentle, soothing tone that had all three little ones mesmerized. I quieted my walk and snuck by, afraid to interrupt. The next time I saw them, they were on the move, holding hands and showering daddy with questions….”daddy, do you like boats”…”daddy, was that a lizard”…”daddy…”….”daddy…” Then I heard the little girl say, “Daddy, I love this beautiful walk.” I must have smiled for the rest of my hike. Do I really think she was digging the walk that much? No, probably not. But it was clear that her motivation was to make her dad to feel happy. It was love made visible and I felt like I’d witnessed a little gift. 
And there were some other lovely gifts along the way…this obliging little salamander that kindly posed for me, the ginormous Newfoundland who introduced herself by flinging herself against my legs (hips), the wild berries that I’ve never noticed before… it was all really good stuff. 

While I don’t think I’ll make a habit of leaving my camera at home, I might make a point of doing it from time to time. It was good for me and great for my soul. 

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