The Walking Stick

I have accumulated several canes and walking sticks over the years. I keep them in a large bucket along with a few fishing poles. I pull a walking stick out each time I venture out into the neighborhood. I have a metal cane that was handed out one year by the pipefitter’s union at the fair. It’s an actual pipe that was fitted with a plastic cap on both ends. I inherited a cane from my grandmother. She bought it in Haiti on her biggest adventure—a  cruise with her bridge club friends.  Her cane has a carved handle shaped like a horse’s neck and head. The body of the cane was made from various pieces of wood, stained and hand-painted with black designs of fish, birds and the aforementioned horsehead. My oldest cane was given to me by the family of a church member born in the 1890’s. It is a typical cane that men carried everywhere they went in the 1930’s and 40’s. 

I began packing a foldable cane in my luggage when I traveled overseas at the suggestion of a missionary. He felt it was wise to carry a cane when walking alone in foreign cities, just to have something that might cause would be thieves or hungry dogs to choose someone else.  It is also good advice for walking in the neighborhood. One time, after trimming our ornamental crabapple tree, I decided to make my own cane from a nice straight branch. I was overzealous with my knife, and it came up too short. I donated it to the church costume closet for the children’s Christmas programs. Every shepherd needs a staff.

I came across my ideal walking stick while on a personal retreat at Camp Tulakogee. I spotted just the right-sized limb from a recently felled tree by my cabin. It even had a decent fork at the top. I worked on this walking stick for months. I skinned the bark and trimmed down the remains of the small branches. I whittled the tricky knots and sanded it all smooth. I was not allowed to do any of this in the house. Finally, I put a few coats of clear acrylic finish over the entire stick. It is my favorite walking stick. 

We had a dear senior lady in our church who was self-conscious the first time she brought a cane to church. She told me with a wink that day, “I’m just practicing for my old age.” By the way, the church has all kinds of canes and walkers available free to anyone who wants one.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep walking. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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