New Year’s Day Walk

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(HOST)Commentator Alan Boye says that the start of the new year is a good time for a contemplative walk.

(BOYE) I’m walking the shore of Lake Champlain on a quiet, winter’s night. I’m at St. Albans Bay, walking along its snow-covered beach. Before me the white expanse of the frozen bay looks like a white disc tossed beneath low, black hills. Beyond the dark horizon, the faint glow of a distant city is reflected twice: once on the night bay and again on the wintry clouds that fill the dome of the sky. A light wintry mix of snow and sleet falls from the clouds, but I don’t mind. I’m quite content to be walking here – alone on this night at the start of the new year.

The road that borders the beach is empty. A corner market stands silently in the yellow circle of a pale streetlamp. I step past a concrete picnic table decked in a tablecloth of thin white snow and walk along the long arc of the deserted beach. As I walk I think of the year to come and zip my collar higher against the wind.

Then I think of the year just gone by. A parade of memories – of joys and of sorrows, of sweet times and bitter – marches past me and then disappears into the wide whiteness of the lake. I stop and listen to the night. From some distant house, a dog begins to bark. The sound – a low roof, roof – punctuates the cold air twice before it disappears. I stand quietly in the silence that follows, remembering the thousands killed this week by a massive tsunami. Then I walk on, following the shoreline as it curves toward the open waters of Lake Champlain.

We seldom take the time to reflect on just where we are in life’s journey. We seldom pause to see what is right before our eyes – we are too busy dwelling on the past or anticipating what the future might hold. I walk along St. Albans Bay as if my journey is endless – as if I could follow the arc of this silver shoreline forever.

I walk at the water’s edge, breathing deeply. In the Vermont winter’s night I quietly resolve to recognize the sacredness of each and every moment of my life. Into that winter night comes a stillness so deep, it stuns me. Without meaning to, I stop. Nothing stirs: not the water, or the air, or the earth. The very universe itself is silent.

I stand, trembling under a power not my own.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury.

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