Walking is both a pleasure and a necessity. And, as a hymn says, we should be free to “walk with Love” – not fear (Minnie M.H. Ayers, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 139).
But this isn’t always the case. Schoolchildren sometimes face bullies who harass them, even in a familiar, comfortable neighborhood. Some nursing home residents are being instructed in “cane-fu” – in how to use canes in a defensive way when threatened.
Can we all be out there walking – without fear, whether or not there is danger? Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy our natural freedom and dominion without feeling threatened when going out the door?
The Bible has many comforting and reassuring things to say about this. For example, one proverb says, “Keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble” (Prov. 3:21-23).
How do “sound wisdom and discretion” enable us to walk safely? By keeping us attuned to God, to His goodness, to His ever-present protection and strength. By helping us listen for wisdom that comes from the divine Mind, to each one of us, old or young. By prompting us to acknowledge that God is our forever friend and defender and helper. Listening to divine Mind’s ideas of comfort and reassurance will provide the discretion and alertness we need.
Parents might give their children certain advice to bolster their sense of safety – for instance, telling them not to talk to strangers, to look straight ahead, and to walk with a friend if possible. But beyond human advice, teaching young people to trust in God will help them to truly walk free.
When I was a young teenager, this kind of teaching paid off early on a Saturday. I used to take the bus to the downtown YMCA to go swimming. One morning as I stepped off the bus onto a quiet street corner, I noticed a man watching me. I needed to walk three blocks past department stores before getting to the basement entrance of the YMCA.
As I glanced in the store windows, I could see the man following me and getting closer. I was afraid. So I turned to God for help. I had been learning in the Christian Science Sunday School some of the things just mentioned – that God’s power and goodness are always present to protect His children. Right there on a quiet downtown street early Saturday morning, I felt both comforted as well as more alert.
I wondered if I could outrun this man to the garage entrance, but I thought that would convey my fear and make him even more aggressive. So I just walked, calmly praying for “wisdom and discretion” with each step.
When I entered the garage and got to the bottom of the stairs leading up to the locker room door, he suddenly reached out to grab me. With courage and vigor that surprised me, I shouted very loudly, “Don’t you touch me!” Coming from such a slight youth, that must have surprised him, too, because he jumped back a few feet and didn’t move. With that, I quickly scooted up the stairs into the familiar and safe territory of the locker room.
I was grateful not only for the protection, but especially for the safety I felt by turning to divine Mind, divine Love, for the wisdom and understanding that came to me so quickly and generously.
Each of us, as God’s child, young or old, is always in the safety of His care and protection. Guided by God’s wisdom, we can see proof of this and feel confident that He is always with us. To the degree that we realize this, we can feel and experience a growing and practical sense that we truly do “walk in [our] way safely.”
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