The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Of parkour and providence

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Yesterday started in humbling fashion. As some of you will know, I was struck down with a violent virus a few weeks ago now. Said virus left me weak as a kitten and unable to exercise, with the result that I am now marginally less weak and out of shape to boot. After a little light jogging and cycling, the time had come to go back to the early morning workouts with a few friends.

In my absence, our base of operations had shifted to another, more local park. We started with the usual runs and sprints and pyramid drills of sit-ups and press-ups, and that was painful enough, prompting more than a few giggles from my uberfit friends.

But then we moved on to the new element. Apparently, this park is the only one for miles around with a parkour training environment (for more on the insanity of free running, see something like this). Now, there are many things at which I am not good, but rarely do I find something at which I am so natively and staggeringly inept as parkour. I was built for rugby, you see, and all this whip-thin and whippet-supple stuff passed me by.

There were many low points. There were the chin lifts when a man who once claimed to be my friend asked why I was wearing the face of a constipated monkey. There were other lifts I was supposed to be doing, when I ended up dangling helplessly. Working back and forth hanging underneath a series of rungs, I asked how many would be a good number.

“Chris managed six,” said Carl, “And I have done three.” I had a go, and thought my two was pretty impressive.

“Chris can go across the whole set of rungs and back six times,” explained Carl. “You managed two single rungs.”

We did some practice leaps over some kind of fence apparatus. I now have parkour shin, the result of landing on said shin on top of the fence in mid-leap. I barely spared myself landing on a far more painful part of the anatomy. At one point, required to hurtle up a ramp and leap from the top, I backed off . . . and off . . . and off.

“Where’s he going?” asked Chris.

“It’s alright,” said Carl, “I think it’s his run-up.”

Needless to say, this rather spoiled my focus.

Anyway, determined to accomplish something of value, I was again dangling off something, by now bruised and bleeding, and feeling my wedding ring cutting into my finger. I took it off and placed it with my other valuables in the bag, and eventually the painful hour was over.

I headed home, glad to be back in the swing of things, but wishing I could swing and not merely hang. As I headed to the front door, crossing the fruitful sward, I pulled my keys from my bag and heard a little ping. It sounded as if I might have dropped something, but I kept moving. When I got in and sorted myself out, I realised that I was not wearing my ring. Searching through the valuables, I realised what that little ping had been. It was the sound of my keys catching on the ring and catapulting them into the grass as I walked to the door.

Searching ensued. I was due in London at 1030, so there wasn’t much time. Seeking to behave calmly, I gave myself the customary loofahing and donned the appointed garments. I headed back out with the help of Thing One and a rake and some urgent and brief prayers. We began to search. I combed the grass. I began wondering how much metal detectors cost. Thing One searched with his boy rake, chopping and flinging in such a way that if he came anywhere near the ring it would probably disappear into the middle distance at some velocity. The tension began to mount. My wife could see I was grieved, and was trying to be supportive. I would soon need to leave. Thing Two wandered out to watch the fun, carrying a breakfast-type snack of mini-weetajobbies of indeterminate brand. He gazed at me in some fascination as I continued to scrutinize the ground (as, probably, did many of the neighbours). He got closer. As usual when he is meant to be eating but has found something else to entertain, the lip of the bowl began to droop at more of a pouring angle. Pretty soon he would begin to shed weetajobbies. I lunged for the bowl but it was too late, and a couple of the little blighters succumbed to the irresistible pull of gravity. I opened my mouth to suggest that such clumsiness was unhelpful and stooped to pick up the lost breakfast.

There, lying precisely between the two fallen weetajobbies, was the lost ring. I scooped up them and Thing Two with some joy, kissed a cheerful goodbye to the wife, Things One and Two and the newborn Thing, and leapt into the vehicle to speed Londonwards in order to deliver a lecture on John Bunyan to one hundred Dutch students. On my finger – a sore and bruised but altogether happier and properly clad finger – was my wedding ring.

Such are the kindnesses of God, even in the dropping of breakfast cereal.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 14 April 2011 at 15:34

One Response

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  1. Brilliant story Jeremy, immediately thought of,

    Matthew 10:29 And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

    Wheetos as well as sparrows!

    Paul Wallace

    Thursday 14 April 2011 at 15:45


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