Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Quadragesimo Anno
Out for a walk

by Father Mark Pautler, for the Inland Register

(From the February 18, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Mark Pautler I noticed it immediately. Stepping out of the car in Moses Lake for a travel break, spring was in the air. We are at that transitional time of the year. The Super Bowl is over (Feb. 7) and Lent is about to launch (Feb. 10). By the calendar we are in the midst of winter, but blue sky and 50 degree weather are already the promise of spring, but not yet. First, let me share some reflections on winter.

Our region received significantly more snow this year than last, a most welcome development even if you donít ski. Where I live on Spokaneís lower South Hill, not all side streets relinquished their compact snow cover. Not all sidewalks were shoveled Ė where we have sidewalks. While it may be more prudent and practical to exercise indoors under these conditions, Iím not a gym guy. Walks through the neighborhood are my preferred workout. Adorned in my earbud necklace, I listen to an audio book while navigating sidewalks and streets. Having found much enjoyment and enlightenment from this use of technology, I no longer smirk at fellow travelers similarly adorned. I can walk and listen, but walking and cell phone squawking is a level of multitasking still beyond me. And I donít want to get there. Sometimes my stroll is purposeful, such as a trip to the grocery store. More often, the purpose is the journey, not the destination Ė to walk, to watch, to greet, to engage life on the streets.

On my walks, I have discovered new things in the older neighborhoods of the lower South Hill. An item in the newspaper alerted me to the Tiger Trail connecting Cliff Drive to 7th Avenue. Another ancient urban path links Fifth Avenue to Liberty Park. I do not recommend traversing it on a hard-packed snow surface, even with the aid of generous hand holds provided by the roughhewn stone wall. After Novemberís windstorm, I surveyed a bit of the damage and debris. I still find the occasional fallen tree, the wood usually sawed and stacked, and an occasional utility line on the ground. A charming and sometimes unnerving feature of the South Hillís topography is that you rarely get from point A to point B in a straight line. Giving directions can be maddening. Asked one time for directions to a particular intersection, I had to advise the traveler, ďYou canít get there from here. You might have better luck if you go to Grand and 29th and ask someone there.Ē

My strolls along the streets of the lower South Hill open my eyes to a part of Spokane that is not easy to look at. This is the area where I have delivered Meals on Wheels. MOW couriers know a little bit about the interiors of some of these homes. I pay attention to the exteriors. Not every home features a picket fence and manicured lawn. Some porches and yards are cluttered with all manner of detritus. Cars parked along the curb often manifest the same characteristics as the houses. These neighborhood strolls are occasions to exercise my body, but they do not exorcise the heaviness within my heart. Something is not right. But is that something about the way people live, or is it about the way people are forced to live and have no other way to live that is realistically within their reach? Would that winter could always contain the promise of spring.

(Father Pautler is Judicial Vicar and Chancellor of the Spokane Diocese.)

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