ZUBIN
MATHAI
author of the oarsman
Footsteps Into Love
December 10, 2014

This morning I walked up Fox Canyon trail to Foothill and Pratt and then came down the focus-demanding steepness of Luci’s trail. It was a beautiful, quiet walk, a surefire way to open up the day to everything.

As I followed narrow paths laid gently on the hills I decided not to focus on the trees or mountains. I ignored the flitting birds hopping shrubs and the steady background of creaking crickets. Even the whispering sky, daring me to fall into its stillness, could not distract me. As a game, I chose to instead sink my whole attention into the sound of my footsteps.

There were times the heartbeat-like rhythm of crunching gravel was loud and distinct, other times only faint thuds muffled by damp ground. Sometimes my focus would shift to my feet and feeling their impact, other times to rolling pebbles I displaced, but I would return it again and again to just the sound of steps.

In moments I let go of owning those sounds. I was not their cause nor source. I was just a listener. And then I wasn’t even that.

Someone more eloquent might explain how something so noise-filled as footsteps could contain the entire silence of the universe. God cleared his throat for attention through each step and his face beamed through rippling echoes of this thing called sound.

I rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of Ojai in it’s valley, some parts touched by sun, some parts shielded by cloud. And the footsteps — what ears would just call sounds — became an embrace, arms sleeved in divine stillness, hugging the entire town.

An ache of appreciation for the day, for the weather, the freshness of the air, and the sound of footsteps, had walked into Love.