Guide our feet into the paths of peace, that having done Your will this day, we may, when night comes, rejoice and give You thanks....
Oh, be careful little feet where you go....
Are there "paths of peace" or are there paths and we are to walk them peacefully? Are there specific places where little feet should or shouldn't go or are little feet to go where they go with care? And what if you wear a size 12?
These prayers, these songs, can be approached in different ways. If you'll really look, the normal approach seems to hold a thread of fatalism in it. If I miss the path of peace or get off of it, for some reason, and go somewhere that little feet should not go, then when night comes, I will not be able to rejoice and give thanks. If I take a wrong turn, then I'm really screwed. And if, for some reason, I don't quickly realign myself to "the" path, I could spend the rest of the day compounding my folly, and the Father up above, Who is looking down in love, would be quite frustrated with me and I would lay me down to sleep both joyless and thankless.
"A path is something that can be followed, it takes you somewhere. 'Linear.' What should a path stand against? 'No path.' Off the path, off the trail. So what's off the path? In a sense, everything else is off the path. The relentless complexity of the world is off to the side of the trail. For hunters and herders trails weren't always so useful. For a forager, the path is not where you walk for long. Wild herbs, camas bulbs, quail, dye plants, are away from the path." - Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild
As these size 12s go out into this day, O Lord, keep me aware that my feet and their steps proceed from my heart, as do my thoughts and words and hopes and dreams. Grant me courage of heart, so that my feet may follow the flight of Your Spirit, the Wild Goose, who often veers off the prescribed paths. Remind me that my life was not fashioned to be prosaic (getting somewhere in a straight line), but poetic (circuitous, off the path, off the trail). I want to experience the "relentless complexity of the world" this day, so that when night comes, I will lay me down to sleep breathlessly wide-eyed, pockets full of herbs and bulbs, my size 12s mudcaked by the back door, rejoicing and giving thanks to You, O Lord, not so much a Father-up-above, as a Father-just-a-little-ahead, urging me deeper and deeper into Your wilds.