“Why is Pastor Joel walking with a cane?” Fair question. Here’s why:
- I like it. My favorite toy as a child was any nice, straight limb. With a staff, I was invincible, able to walk the roughest terrain or climb the steepest hill. With a cane, I still am.
- I enjoy standing. I have a lean-to with me whenever I have the cane. I can stop and talk to anyone for as long as they like. I can stoop to talk to a child, then quickly stand to address the parents.
- I enjoy walking. Guyton, GA, is a pedestrian community. Its big attraction is a walking trail, and its downtown community is a great stroll — and, hopefully, fruitful territory for spreading the Gospel. With a cane, I can walk for hours without fatigue.
- I like music. With the cane, I can thump a wooden floor. I can recalibrate my stride, walk in 3/4 time, or put the accent on whatever beat fits the song. I know, the song is only in my head — but the cane adds variety to the percussion.
- OCD. I have a shepherd’s crook; Grampa’s rustic walking stick; Dad’s dog-head cane; Dad-in-Law’s brass duck cane; and a new brass-knobbed cane. One to paint, one to treasure, one or two to give away. And, speaking of which …
- Ministry-by-Example. There are many people who should carry a cane but don’t. I know why. They are embarrassed. It is embarrassing to use a mobility aid, although it shouldn’t be. I’ve already had people take theirs out of hiding when they see it’s okay to use one.
- Dogs. I love them, but sometimes I trip on their turf. If they’re off-leash, that turf might be the middle of the street. I would never, ever, intentionally harm any animal, especially dogs and cats. It is also my intention to never get bit — again. On a gentler note, my puppy is very responsive to a gentle nudge. A cane in the doorway keeps him from bolting when I open the door.
- Cool factor. I like how it looks in the long shadows of Southeast Georgia. I like spinning the baton. I like watching the brass and wood wear and fade with use. I guess the nerd/geek/fashion-clumsy factors should counteract all that, but you know me — clueless.
- Endurance. I walk farther, stand longer, move with more confidence, and avoid back strain. I feel so good that I usually don’t need a cane –because I carry a cane. But sometimes …
- Physical. Doctors say with blood pressure this low, I might live forever if I switch to a diet of salt and fat. Usually, I’m active enough to keep the blood supply flowing to my brain. It’s rare that I get lightheaded, but it’s great to have a support when I do. My back is a miracle, and I never followed up on that fusing vertebrate thing. My back feels great! A cane helps it stay that way.
“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” I don’t deserve a handicap sticker, and I need the walk, anyway. I don’t welcome the attention, but part of ministry is getting people’s attention. It’s my conductor’s baton, my ringmaster’s cane, my shepherd’s crook, my drumstick — and, stealing from the series “House”, “Hold my metaphor.”
So, don’t worry. Pastor’s having fun and taking care of himself. It’s no sin for all y’all to do the same.