“244, 245…” So, I am living, as we all are, in a pandemic, pseudo-quarantined, stay away from others for the most part season. On top of that, it snowed again last night (what’s new?), and it is kind of cold out there. This all adds up to a very convenient excuse to evolve into the epitome of coach potatoes, or computer spuds, as they are called nowadays. Where I live, all outdoor work and play – unless you play hockey – is done until about next April 16th. This means our world has collapsed, and we have the tendency to have another cup of coffee, and why not have another donut to go along with it, and to plan our days basically on what we will eat at the next meal. Add to that the very real activity that Cheri participates in when she is home and bored, and our kitchen quickly becomes a blend of King Arthur, Betty Crocker and the Keebler Elves, with breads and goodies – and thousands of cookies (ooo – the salt caramel ones are especially good!) pouring out of the workshop.
This is not good. Actually during the spring and summer while locked down, I lost a few pounds, and was feeling good about that. With the weather change, and not being creative enough to find something active to do, I fear that I will be matched up with the grizzly bears in Alaska, where every fall, there is a contest to vote on which bear we think is the fattest one going into hibernation.. This year, a bear nicknamed “747,” due to its wide-body appearance, won the “Fat Bear” championship. I do not wish to become even an honorable mention, so it was time to rewire the brain.
In June, for our anniversary, we decided to help our physical fitness a bit by giving each other “Fitbits,” little electronic gizmos we wear on our wrists, which tell us how long and how well we slept, what our heart rate is, how much time we spent exercising, and going up and down steps, and especially, how many steps in general we have taken each day.
I know that all the experts says we need to walk 10,000 steps a day, but I have decided not to become a slave to their maniacal emphasis. I do get in between 4500 and 6500 per day, and could probably get more in, if I didn’t have so much computer time I need to put in, and jigsaw puzzle building to get done – and the donuts… what the Fitbit does have on it, is the ability to set a little alarm, that buzzes your wrist, and politely tells you to get off your big, fat… comfort, and walk a little bit, for crying out loud.
Each hour, from 9am to 6pm, your little electronic fitness expert tells you that you need to put in 250 steps. That’s not a lot of steps, and many hours in the day it’s easily accomplished. However, when I am involved in writing for an extended period of time, the only things that are active are my fingers. Now, the Fitbit gives you time to accomplish your exercise task, but if you have not put in the 250 by ten minutes before the next hour, the buzz hits, and the little screen lights up and says that you have 25 more steps to go, or 105 steps, or… boy, do I hate it when it says I have 250 steps to walk in the next 10 minutes, or I am an utter failure. That means two things: one, I have managed not to walk ONE step in a full hour, and two, I have to shuffle all around the house to get the 250 in. Now, let me just say something that is inherently unfair. Cheri is 10 inches shorter than I am, and her legs, though cute, are short as well. Added to that the fact that the woman never stops moving, it means that she can easily get her steps in with far less territory needing to be walked. I on the other hand can go down and back in a hallway in about 15-20 steps. That would mean I have to go up and down the hallway a good 13 times, in ten minutes to get the steps in. AND, I should say, because I count my steps while I am walking, that the so-called electronic fitness expert is a really poor counter of steps. I will put in way over 250, and then look at the screen, and it says I have about 76 more to go. Sheesh.
So every hour during my waking day, I have to get those steps in. Granted, I know that the total number of steps being pushed on me is only 2250, which is embarrassingly low. However, when you are going to take a nap, you have to time it so you have just finished the steps before the hour strikes, and then be awake in time to cram in 250 before the next hour starts. Heaven forbid, you might be sleepy at, say, 1:30. Before you can take a lovely nap, you have to pay the steps piper. And, heaven also help you if you have to drive somewhere, and you get in the car, pull out of the driveway, and the screen tells you that you have 127 steps to walk in the next ten minutes. There are just some times when I don’t feel like parking the car, and walking around it 25 times in front of God and everyone.
Seriously though, it is a good, and simply way to at least put some movement into my day. And it’s not a terrible burden, and it does remind me of how easy it is to become sedentary as donut crumbs fall into my beard. By the way, I’ve grown a beard, and I can tell you it is quite the platinum blonde color – almost white, you might say… but it does encourage, and push a little and then it rewards me with a little puny light up screen that shows a figure with upstretched arms, victorious in going an entire 250 steps. How exciting. What motivation.
All of us need something to invite or encourage or even push us to do more and be more. Even over achievers need to be encouraged to be more thoughtful, and less reactive, and to find ways not to have to be a type-a personality all the time. It really never hurts to have someone – or something – tell us that we can do it, whatever it is, and we can strive toward a higher goal. I wonder what would happen if we took that same device, modified it, and it would give us the signal each hour to take time to be holy. Take time to be quiet and still before God, and listen to both what blessing God has given to us, and what we are being called to do next. To take time to pray, and not in asking for a checklist of items to be delivered like a bag of groceries, but simply being in the presence of the One who makes all things, and holds our hand even through pandemic times.
What would happen if we had a device that, perhaps hourly, would poke us to share an act of love – whether that’s a note or an email or a phone call, or bringing a plate of those great cookies to a neighbor, or whatever we might imagine that act of love to be? Maybe forgiveness, or asking to be forgiven. Every hour, your wrist would buzz, and remind you to love one another.
You see, being intentional means we think about those things at the front of our minds – we are looking for those opportunities, and we happy to do so on a regular, constant basis. We mean to do so, and find joy when those acts occur, and we are able to better tune our ears and our eyes to see where we might change the world – a little – in the next hour. Something to think about.
Well, my wrist just buzzed. Off to get those 162 steps in. And maybe share some love at the same time…
Word for the day: purlieu. Pronounced PURR-lyoo. I had never heard this word used in this sense before, but it was in my crossword puzzle today, so I thought I would share.
I’ve always understood “purlieu” to be the area of land that came up against a royal forest, but I did some study to find out why it is so. In the Middle Ages, the royals were always greedy to swallow up land that wasn’t theirs and to call it so. If you were to obtain a piece of land next to royal property (or anyone else), one of the important things you would do would be to take a walk around the entire perimeter of the property and make measurements and claims in front of witnesses. Therefore, when the property would later come under dispute, you still would have some claim to at least part of the property. The land in dispute would be solved by common use, but remain in your ownership. It would be called the “purlieu.”
It comes from the Latin perumbulare, which means simply “to walk the perimeter, or to walk around” Per = around, ambulare = to walk. (An ambulance is a mobile medical vehicle). It moved to the French, purlieu, where it is found today.
So, actually, the word has broadened in meaning to mean “neighborhood,” or the outlying area. A purlieu is a hangout, or a meeting place on a regular basis. So, if you can get down to where you have coffee with your friends, remind them of what a nice purlieu you all have.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.