Every morning I take my dog on a walk around my apartment complex. Sometimes we go a little further, venturing outside the gate and down the street. But we always make the circle around the apartments. Every once in awhile we meet another dog. Some of the dogs are friendly; others are indignant that there is another dog living here (!). A couple of times we have met a nice couple who are riding their bicycles around the apartment complex. They know my dog's name, but not mine. I don't know their names.
Often we run into a man who regularly walks around the apartment complex. He does not have a dog, but he takes the encircling walk regularly. We have talked a little bit; mostly, he has told me about his church. I have mentioned to him a couple of times that I am a pastor, too. He doesn't seem overly concerned about this. He asks me whether I think the world is coming to an end, soon.
I always tell him that I don't know. Since that was Jesus' answer, it seems a pretty safe one.
He thinks that the end of the world is a good possibility. He believes that there are signs that this is true. I have to admit, that the thought has crossed my mind, although I suspect that my signs are not exactly the same as his. But we never get farther than whether or not the end is near. He says, "I think it is." I say, "I don't know."
Then he says, "God bless you." And he keeps walking around the buildings, making his regular circle.
Pretty soon it is going to be Lent. Wednesday is for Ashes and Confession. For forty days we'll be walking with Jesus, in prayer and fasting and repentance. The end is Easter, God's new life and hope in us. Our journey is 40 days, no more and no less.
I can't get the picture of the man, walking in circles, out of my mind.
We do our daily tasks, praying and walking and wondering. When someone crosses our path, we say "God bless you."
And we pray, not just in Lent, but in every season, that God uses the circles that we walk in, that God uses our feet and our hands and our poor bruised hearts, and blesses the world, through us.