Stephen D’Evelyn: Running, Walking, Identifying

It’s a brilliantly sunny spring day. This morning as I ran around the outside of the fence now enclosing the park where I have run for a couple of years, I noticed the intensity of the colours and the white fuzz of dew on the grass.

My feet still hurt a bit from a long walk yesterday with our son, but I was pushing myself, running, thinking abstractly about what it means to be a man. Then – ouch! I hit something.

A part of the fence had been bent down and was protruding across the route around the park. The impact hurt. I resented the fence even more. I resented not seeing the bent-down section. I kept running.

I noticed the irony in this defiant act of protest hurting me who inwardly protested the fence. Then I thought, I can run through that gap! So I retraced my steps and went through into the open space of the park.

I could have gone through that gap the first time if I had been walking mindfully, seeing all there was to see, rather than running off angrily.

I had been mulling over work and manhood and the biblical creation story, especially the creation of Adam. His name seems to mean something like ‘reddish’ and is cognate with another Hebrew word for ‘earth’. Of course he was taken from dust. But his fate is also to till the earth. As men it is easy for us to identify completely with our work. Red-earth Adam is the toil of tilling the soil.

Adam was not supposed to be alone. Yes there is a strong identification between his name, his identity, and his job. But that is not all there is to it. And that is because only along with Eve is Adam described as made in the image and likeness of God.

All men, and perhaps in specific ways men who self-identify as disabled, or as part of another category marginalised by the dominant ways in which society is organised, are faced with the temptation to prove your worth, to do it yourself, to make it on your own, to be a hero. And certainly initiative and creative energy are valuable and important. But it is just as important to remember that we are not alone and that we are by being together. The dew on the spring morning grass as we look back in anger at the fence may be the dew of the Creation story but we are not made to be alone and our worth as beings flows through each other from the inexhaustible source of being. The sunlight pours through translucent leaves. We’re not striving and running, just letting it be. We walk along the path.

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