At 7:30 AM, I’m drinking coffee at the breakfast table and attempting to grade papers. Our neighbor (the one who stops by occasionally and says, “I should probably stay for dinner”) comes in. He’s the type of 9-year-old who carries a little cage with him in case he finds critters. When we walk in the woods, he’s equipped with nets, cages, wading boots, and all his fishing gear. He’s prepared indeed.
He is, after all, a Scout.
He has a zeal for living I wish I could bottle. He approaches the breakfast table and pulls out an order form for popcorn. He’s a Boy Scout (Not yet, he tells me. He’s still at the Webelos level. He’s a Cub Scout eagerly preparing to be a Boy Scout), and he’s selling popcorn as a fundraiser.
At 7:30 AM.
I’m not surprised at his early morning sales pitch. He’s an entrepreneur if I’ve ever seen one. His lemonade stand grossed a fortune in July.
As he folds the order form neatly, he says, “I’m going to earn a new badge for building with wood.” He pauses, creating anticipation.
“What are you going to make?” I ask.
He confirms that he’s already very skilled in stilt walking.
Stilts: those wooded structures that we attach to our legs to walk high about the ground. I read later that shepherds in France, mounted on stilts, could do extraordinary things–walk through the rivers, run across dangerous marshes, and forge trails otherwise blocked by thick brush.
The stilts make a way through the wilderness. And at that height, stilt-walkers see with a new perspective. And this little boy knows the places he can go with them strapped to his legs.
I want stilts. I want to be a stilt-walker through this day: rising above obstacles, forging trails. There’s no path cleared in this territory. It’s a life of faith, and I need my stilts. I mount up by faith, I see the blocked path, and I walk on.
(Photo: “The Stilt Walker of Landes,” Sylvain Dornon)