Appreciation in the Park – Guest Post by Jennifer Shawker, R.N. Communications Coordinator at Unity of SA
As inspiring as Rev. Linda’s messages have been for the past few weeks, I woke last week feeling overwhelmed and not in any shape to “Change the Dream” or “Awaken from the Dream and Live.” I was unconvinced I could tackle all on my plate, discouraged about my circumstances. I wondered what was wrong with me, and then I realized….I’d slacked off in the area of self-care. I’d eaten reasonably well, but little less exercise makes a big difference in my world.
Thankfully, I had the time to go exercise in my favorite place, Pecan Hill Park in Floresville, where I live. I knew it was a good idea to go. As a nurse and a student of Unity, I’d concluded a while ago that for me, exercise is not only good for my body, but a spiritual practice as well.
I drove to the park with a head full of “stinkin thinking” I was unconvinced it would help. Still, I went. Like most practices, I’ve discovered even on the days where it’s not helpful, practice is eventually helpful, and nearly automatic if I keep at it.
I was gentle on myself. With the help of an exercise app, I’ve found when I’m exercising regularly, I can achieve a notably high walking pace. But having missed out for a week, I knew starting back again at that pace might cause some discomfort the next day. I kept a comfortably brisk pace, but not my usual 4 mph. Exercise has taught me a great deal about self-compassion.
One of the things I love about Pecan Hill Park is that it’s a popular place for morning exercise for people of all ages and abilities. Everyone is so polite. A smile and “good morning” as we pass one another is the status quo. Retires come in groups and chit-chat. Young mothers push their young ones in strollers. Teens arrive before school to train. And my favorite, a six-foot older Hispanic gentleman who always greets me as I pass him with, “Good Morning, mi hija!” in a booming voice. With streaks of gray immerging in my hair, anyone who thinks I’m young enough to be of an age to be called, “My daughter” is a delight to me! I can’t help but respond with an enthusiastic, “Good morning, sir!” and a big smile.
All different, yet all engaged in a similar activity. The experience reminded me we are all connected at all times, whether or not we are engaged in the same activity. It’s a sense of separation from the Source, each other, and our Highest Selves that robs us of our ability to “Change the Dream” and “Awaken from the Dream and Live.” This is why exercising in Pecan Hill Park is a high holy spiritual practice to me, as uplifting as any prayer or meditation. The park is just as glorious as any cathedral or sanctuary I’ve ever been in. Why? Because I come away feeling connected and deeply aware of the Truth. Thanks to some self-care and connection with others – I had enough energy to find not only meaning in Rev. Linda’s words. I was also ready to move my hands and feet and LIVE the Truth she spoke of, too.
I also came away with a sense of appreciation for all who chose to engage in self-care with me. Their smiles and camaraderie with them gave me the boost I needed to get out there and live the Truth I am. I was grateful for the reminder of our Oneness. Appreciation and my self-care practice had created a shift in my consciousness. My circumstances had not changed, but I was now in alignment with the Truth: I am one with the One, I am the Light, therefore even in the darkest circumstances, I can expect to shine.