Last night, my oldest daughter and I watched The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, A Dog Named Christmas. At it’s very beginning the author of the tale defined the animal as a walk-about dog. One who travels on foot, may settle for a time, but then at some point, simply moves on. A seeker, perhaps following his nose, but always moving forward in search of something. A wanderer.
For many of us, it is difficult to understand why any creature would choose to wander and never really establish a home. There are many sayings that in one way, or another, tell us that “Home is where the heart is”. Yet, many of us have known wanderers, people who wander into our lives and then leave it again after a time.
We may remember them clearly, even recall their names long after they have moved on to other places and other people. While others, may become only vaguely remembered persons who might have shared some time, or even one experience, and then chose to continue to be a ‘walk-about.’ We, ourselves might be just such an individual to countless others.
In the movie, the dog wanders into the lives of a family and changes the dynamics of their lives. Touching and altering the manner in which they deal with one another and the way in which they see themselves and others. But then chooses to stay instead of moving on. No one can know his reasons, maybe he just got tired. It doesn’t matter because he brought them something they might never have known without his presence. In a very real way, he changed their definition of home. Expanded it, made it different and better than it was.
I am over sixty years old. In those years, I have met and gotten to know a great number of individuals. Some retain a clearly defined image in my memory, while others are no more than a blur, and some have been forgotten entirely, as have I, perhaps by many of them. But each of them brought me something, shared it with me, and maybe even altered my destiny with the gift of themselves.
Some of them have been my friends and I have missed them when they have chosen to move on. Some have brought me hard gifts, lessons I would have chosen not to learn, but still needed to do so. And my one hope is that I have been able to do the same for at least a few of them. I don’t remember all of their names, and doubt that many remember mine.
Here on these pages, I often speak of life as a continuing journey. One that doesn’t have to leave home to become a walk-about. If one keeps an attitude of openness, it is a journey without end, but not without a home. And each individual that we encounter is simply another walk-about, a seeker, as well as a teacher.
There is another saying, a caution as to how we should deal with strangers because we can never know when we might be entertaining angels. That might become even more important if we realize that some angels might choose to stay in close proximity, becoming living members within our own families.
When one embraces the idea that each of us is created with a purpose to fulfill, and a function to be completed, then all people have something to offer and gifts to be given. And each of us becomes a walk-about, following our senses and seeking our own destiny. Perhaps helping our fellow travelers in known and unknown ways. That is not to say that we should throw all caution to the wind. But if we are to trust the heart which is our home, there comes a time when trust must take us forward on our journey, or fear alone, will stop that journey.
How do you deal with the walk-abouts in your own experience? And how do you deal with the walk-about you yourself might be? Do you recognize the angels that you entertain, and do you offer the gift of yourself in small and even larger ways? Are you like me: sometimes patting yourself on the back for how far you have wandered and explored, but at other times realizing that you may have backed yourself into a corner and become only a watcher of other peoples’ journeys? Do you accept the gifts that come your way, or dismiss them out of hand believing you really don’t need them.
One last question: If you were to become a walk-about, which direction would you head in?