It was determined the minute I awoke to sunshine; I would take the dog and the little one on a long run. All efforts of the morning pointed to that hope, that mission in need of undertaking, those miles my feet ached to cover, the vitamin D my body wanted, the oxygen I craved, the exertion for all of us, housebound in the winter.

I took the first four streets out of my neighborhood with ease, settling into a rhythm, the dog attached to the stroller. I curved onto the path east and said hello to a white-haired woman pushing a wheel chair in slow motion. We exchanged pleasantries, her pealing gratitude to see the mountain revealed from the inversion once again, and a quick “Yep, there it is,” from me, as I ran past. I rounded another curve, and I thought of the woman, so eager to say something to me. I kept running and I thought of the deep folds in her wide face, the easy smile, her hair neat in a loose knot curved along her head, like a wisp-less Gibson girl. “I bet she was pretty once upon a time,” the thought came from nowhere, and then I stopped thinking that thought as soon as it started because with it came another thought, sister to it: “I bet she was a lot of things once upon a time.”

I didn’t want to do it, but I knew I was supposed to. I spent at least two minutes trying to talk myself out of it, but I know this to be true: if I want Heavenly Father to ask me for help, if I want him to know that I’m someone down here who cares, then I need to listen.

Right then I got a phone call from my groomer and I had to stop mid-stride: Could I get my dog in earlier today? She had an opening; she was anxious. “Sure,” I said absently, “I’ll get her there.” I tucked my phone back into the stroller and realized something key: I had stopped. I was standing on a trail. I wasn’t running.

So, I turned around and I walked toward the woman with white hair and as she approached I doubted myself but said this anyway, “Can I walk with you?” She said, “I can’t keep up with you.” And I said, “That’s OK. I want to walk with you, at your pace.”

Which was a snail’s pace, and enemy to what my legs really wanted.

She talked to me while we walked. For and hour and a half. About her best friend; about her stroke; about her days as a school teacher in Montana; about an award she won (twice!) as a teacher; about how she found a pen when she was little and took it then promised Heavenly Father that she’d never be dishonest again.

And then she would circle back to talking about her friend again. How her friend had hurt her; how she feels like she hasn’t a soul to talk to anymore, because everyone her age is deaf.

By this point I had to get my dog to the groomers and so I started to lead us there and she followed. I invited her with inside with me; she said she’d better get home. “If you wait, I can help you,” I said and she was exasperated: “I’m not helpless. I just can’t remember anything.”

Still, I watched her from the window of the groomers before walking back to check my dog in. As I did, the groomer walked out of her room and saw me and started to shake. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, looking at my dog, “I love Goldens.” And she broke down, crying big sobs in earnest, her tears mixed with her eyeliner and mascara and leaving black tracks along her cheeks. She told me how her own golden died three days earlier, how the dog was poisoned and died on her bed, how she was heartbroken, how her son was heartbroken too. “You can love Sunny (my dog) as long as you want,” and I handed the dog over and the woman fell to crying in Sunny’s fur.

I touched her arm, her back; I let her cry. It was no use trying to get any of my morning back so I gave into it. I listened.

Later, I trailed the street my white-haired friend would have taken, just to make sure she made it back to the nursing home. I could still see her in the distance, her hair made almost invisible by the angle of our lovely sun, and I lingered back, a heart full of too much to process.

It wasn’t love I felt exactly, as I wandered back home, no dog to keep in check, a boy who’d grown tired of the stroller and walked by me but off the path, in the frozen weeds, patches of snow. We took it slower than before, my little one’s strides quicker than my white-haired friend’s, but more circuitous and curious. We stopped so he could climb fences and peer into the creek. We stopped so he could tell me things. We flat out stopped one time and I don’t know why, but he asked me to take a picture.

Twice he askedIMG_4519.

I was caught up in what seemed to be a query with my Heavenly Father—is that what You wanted? Did those women need your ears? Am I your ears? What about my run? One measly run! But I heard him, barely.

And I took the picture.


  1. Barb

    February 6, 2013

    Don’t ever stop writing!

  2. jenny

    February 6, 2013

    I love this. I feel like this too, sometimes, and the reward is giving in to it. Good for you.

  3. Lisa

    February 6, 2013

    I read something the other day. “Don’t shine so that others can see you, shine so that through you others can see Him.” I think that’s what you did that day. Wonderful.

  4. merritt

    February 6, 2013

    thank you, brooke! love you!

  5. CJ

    February 6, 2013

    This is beautiful Brooke. Thank you for this shared moment.

  6. Darla

    February 6, 2013

    This was beautiful.

  7. Angela H.

    February 6, 2013

    I don’t want to say “Beautiful” because it’s already been said, but there isn’t another word. Beautiful, Brooke!

  8. Jeannie

    February 6, 2013

    You write so others can hear.. thank you!!

  9. Lindsay

    February 6, 2013

    Beautiful. I’ve often felt that moment–the one where you are frustrated and anxious to be somewhere else doing something else–when you take a deep breath and consciously choose to let go. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Rochelle

    February 6, 2013

    I love you. I’ve missed you. I have been so rushed lately, I haven’t had many of those moments. Thanks for reminding me why I’m here.

  11. Blue

    February 6, 2013

    I had one experience like that. It was about five years ago now. It seriously made me feel SO GOOD that I asked, and he heard, and instantly used me to help someone who needed help RIGHT THEN.

    I hesitated at first, because I honestly barely knew her and wasn’t even positive which house was hers. But I went over anyway, and what do you know?! She was pregnant, assuming she had another 4 weeks since her first three kids were 2 weeks late and it was still 2 weeks til her due date.

    Moments before I’d arrived, her water had had broken and she was home with little kids, had nothing ready to go to the hospital, and it was hours still till help would arrive. I was able to jump in and help get her out the door, and stay with the kids til late that night when her parents arrived. And that was how our friendship started!

    I wish I could have experiences like that every day…moments when I bless someone else’s life…even if it was just a little thing. It was so wonderful to know for sure that I had communicated with God. most of the time when I do stuff for people, it feels like just me being me. And most prayers feel mostly one-way. I probably need to seek this kind of moment specifically. Thank you for the lovely reminder and for sharing your insights. ♥

  12. Michelle

    February 6, 2013


  13. Sage

    February 7, 2013

    Thanks for this reminder of how to listen.

    It struck me a bit as my mother lives alone and although still very active, she probably needs more ears to hear her.

  14. Jennie

    February 7, 2013

    I feel so unable to have experiences like this. Almost like my ears are just permanently turned off. I need to try harder to make this happen–to know how to be a better instrument in te Lord’s hands.

  15. Charity

    February 7, 2013

    Thank you. I want to try harder. To open my heart, and therefore my ears more. I want to have a heart like His.

  16. Brooke

    February 7, 2013

    this experience that i wrote about happened just before christmas and i have thought a LOT about my friend since then. anyway, after posting this yesterday morning, i was driving by the park and SAW HER, riding in the wheelchair she usually pushes.

    i have felt so much guilt that i haven’t been to visit her in the nursing home, so i made sure to drive into the park yesterday, and stop my car and get out to chat with her… and she remembered me.

    which is something.

    anyway, i don’t think that was a coincidence.

  17. Sandra

    February 7, 2013

    lovely. You inspire my writing and character.

  18. Aaron

    February 7, 2013

    A truly beautiful piece. I’m glad that you took that picture. And that you took THAT picture.

  19. Jill

    February 8, 2013

    Thank you for sharing. I’m in tears and resolving to listen better.

  20. Melody

    February 10, 2013

    Beautiful. You’ve given me a perfect start to the Sabbath. Your words, your experience . . .all of it is lovely and it sounded very much like love. The Jesus kind.

  21. robin marie

    February 12, 2013

    so beautifully powerful! i am glad you listened. and stopped. and wrote.

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