The tunnel system underneath our campus at work stretches for about six blocks. It doesn’t follow a straight line; it bends and curves and angles to accommodate the placement of buildings and both the topography and geology. It’s not entirely underground; part of runs alongside an extended bank of windows, and part of it becomes an extended walkway over a street. But we call it the tunnel. And it affords protection against bad weather, a place to stand during tornado drills (or the real thing), and a comfortable way to reach other buildings during rain or snow.
This day, it is largely empty. It’s a fine day outside, and the middle of the afternoon. This day, at this time, I’ve chosen to walk the tunnel. I feel almost compelled to.
Work this day is intense, crisis-ridden, filled with politics and missed opportunities. I have worked straight through lunch; the work keeps mounting, and mounding, up.
And so I do what Ann Kroeker suggests in Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. And that is to take a walk, breaking the pattern of ever increasing work frenzy and breaking it deliberately.
And so I walk the tunnel. I know I won’t come across very many people, and likely no one I know.
My building sits at about the center of the tunnel system. Walk in one direction, and I’ll end up where the staff functions are housed or veer to the left and walk with the buildings housing the commercial businesses. Or I can go in the other direction, in the direction of the large complex of buildings for our research and technology organization. Perhaps the position of my building is symbolic – where the flow of research and business and staff functions converge, a physical nexus of the company’s headquarters.
I reach the tunnel and the bottom of the stairs, and turn toward the research complex. The tunnel is deserted; I hear only the echoes of my own footsteps. I pass no one. It’s a quiet walk, and I find myself listening.
Calm your spirit.
Rest your soul.
Walk, and walk toward me.
As I walk, my mind begins to empty of work, looming crises, conflicts and tensions. As I walk along the windowed wall of this part of the tunnel, I can see mid-afternoon sunshine lighting the grass and trees along the ground sloping away from the tunnel before it moves sharply upward into a hill. It’s windy, and the trees are filtering the light, creating a shimmering effect on the ground and grass.
Unexpectedly, I find myself on a shimmering Sea of Galilee. It’s mid-day, too late for fishing, the boat must be moving from one side of the lake to the other. I am one of a group of people watching the waves, feeling the wind, hearing the sounds of the water and birds and someone talking.
And I listen, to what’s being taught on the boat.
Over at The High Calling, we’re discussing Not So Fast. Visit the site and take a look at what other people are talking (and blogging) about.
Photograph by Tom Leeds via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.