The contemplative sidewalk

Kathleen Norris’ Dakota speaks often of a contemplative life, brought about by her experiences as an oblate at a Benedictine monastery and the isolation of the Great Plains. Yesterday over lunch with my wife I reflected on past days when I made more opportunities to reflect on life, to meditate, to just be and observe.

One thing I’ve done since high school is walk. I enjoy walking. I observe as I walk, I pray as I walk and I prefer to walk after dark when there are fewer distractions. I realized, though, that it’s more difficult to walk contemplatively here in Siloam Springs than it was in Nebraska.

The reason, I decided, is that there aren’t any sidewalks. The streets in Siloam Springs are narrow and when I’m out walking I have to pay attention to traffic and ditches. I didn’t have to do that in Nebraska where sidewalks were plentiful.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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