One of my favorite memories of my nephew was when he was first learning how to walk. Like any small child, he was not very steady on his feet so he would need assistance when he walked. In order to help him, I would stand behind him, holding onto his tiny hands, and we would walk together. Back and forth we would go from the kitchen to the dining room until either he got tired or became bored. From an adult’s perspective it was not the most exciting thing to do but because my nephew liked it I found myself enjoying the walk as well.
This memory recently came back to me when I saw a picture titled “Walking with Jesus” created by Morgan Weistling. It shows St. Joseph in his workshop, taking Jesus’ hands like I did with my nephew and walking with him. It was while I was reflecting on this picture that I was struck with how it can explain our own relationship with God.
One thing that the viewer will notice is that there is a hammer and blocks of wood on the floor so it looks like Joseph might have been working when Jesus decided that he wanted to walk. Instead of Joseph ignoring him or asking Mary to remove him from his shop, Joseph accepts Jesus’ invitation to walk with him. This same thing happens to us every day. God calls us to walk with him throughout the day regardless if it is convenient or not. He does not do this because he is some kind of control freak but instead he does this because he loves us. Part of it is that he wants us to know that we are not alone (read Psalm 139) and another part of it is that he wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives not only when we are in church or in prayer. He wants to be our constant travel companion who is there to provide a steadying hand that will uphold us when we find ourselves on unsteady ground or to listen to us when we need to talk. By inviting him into our daily walk through life, we will find support, encouragement, and whatever else we need to make our life’s journey.
Another interesting thing that I got from the picture was that Jesus came to Joseph in his workshop instead of during times where you would expect to see a child such as at a mealtime or bedtime. Jesus’ presence in the workshop shows us that God meets us where we are at. That means that we do not need to be perfect nor saintly for him to come to us. For it is in all our messiness and in our spiritual poverty that we will find God extending a helping hand out to us. If we chose to grasp his hand, we will soon find ourselves walking a better path that will help us grow spiritually closer to him which in turn change us into better people.
Finally I saw in this picture a profound thought; sometimes God simply calls us to walk with the Child Jesus. Walking with a child takes patience and time because they are slow and they do not get very far. When God calls us to walk with the Child Jesus, he calls us to slow down and be in the present moment. The sad thing is that now days we are often too busy to even notice God, let alone that he is asking us to take this walk. We are so busy checking our phones or rushing from one thing to the next that we do not notice him there. Our surroundings become a blur so we miss out on such things as the beauty of nature or those people who are on our journey with us. We become so wrapped up in ourselves that we miss out on those moments that could impact our lives. That is why God calls us to walk with the Child Jesus because as we start to slow down, we will find that our attention is no longer focused on ourselves but on God and others. We will see things that we missed so many times before and through our new sight, we will start to enjoy the walk too.
Walking with God can be both profound and difficult. Sometimes the difficulty comes from the fact that we are prideful so we do not want to the help. Other times it becomes difficult because we find that we lose control of where we are headed which means the path becomes unclear. Yet all this difficulty does not compare to the sweetness that we will find when we choose to walk with God. It is through his presence and help that we find that our journey becomes sweeter and more profound. Nothing on earth can compare to walking with God so take his hand today and walk with him. Do not push it aside but hold onto it tightly. Let him guide you and help you to learn to walk this path we call life.
St. Zeno of Verona help us to learn to walk like children.