April 25, 2021
And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~Isaiah 30:21
An early morning walk is a blessing for the entire day. ~Henry David Thoreau
Last week I went to see our son, Ro, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Before I drove down, he asked me, “What do you want to do Dad when you get here?” “Oh, I’d like to go on some walks; that’s about it.”
When I arrived in “L.A.,” Ro greeted me at my car and off we went for a walk in a canyon near his house. We traversed along the rim through ponderosa pine, climbed up and down rocks, crossed a bridge and stared down into the depths of the canyon. We talked about life in general, spent time in the evening silence. We were hoping to eat supper out, but we lost track of time, night fell upon us and by the time we got back to his house, all the local restaurants were closed. Such is the nature of a good walk.
As many of you know, I love to walk. Nothing seems to bring me home quite like a stroll. Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Not everyone is able to walk, but most people can, which makes walking one of the most easily available spiritual practices of all. All it takes is a decision to walk and some awareness, both of who we are and what we are doing. Where we are going is not as important as it might seem.”
There are many kinds of walks. We can walk for aerobic exercise to raise our heart rates for health purposes and maybe lose a few winter pounds. We can walk instead of driving to the post office or to the P&D Grocery store to cut down on our carbon footprint. We can walk for pleasure just to feel our bodies move, breathe fresh air, and literally smell the flowers. We can also take purposeless walks–strolls or ambles—which are at a slower pace and subject to curiosity and wonder. (Note: Pretty well all walks with young children are unstructured journeys full of awe and mystery.)
Jesus walked. He walked into the countryside. He walked by the sea of Galilee. He even walked on water. He was walking when he asked the disciples to follow him. It is hard to imagine Jesus moving at a fast pace even if a car was available. He walked everywhere except for a short stint on a donkey on Palm Sunday. “Walking gave Jesus time to see things like the milky eyes of the beggar sitting by the side of the road, or the round black eyes of sparrows sitting in their cages at the market,” says Taylor.
“Because Jesus moved slowly, people and things came into focus for him, just as he came into focus for them,” Taylor writes. As he was walking by one day, a woman who had been bleeding for years saw him and said, “If I could just touch his cloak, I know I will be made well.” If Jesus had been moving more quickly to reach more people and accomplish more, the woman might not have seen him, and Jesus would not had time to stop and talk to her.
Sometimes Jesus had a destination and sometimes he did not. Barbara Taylor says, “While many of Jesus’ present-day admirers pay close attention to what he said and did, they pay less attention to the pace at which he did it. Jesus was a walker and not a rider. He took his sweet time.”
What if we took “a closer walk with thee?” What if we took our sweet time and smelled the roses?
When we walk and do not have a destination, we are free to see the holy, the sacred, and the beauty in the world. A good walk slows us down so we can see and hear anew. Our neighbor planted new fruit trees. An elderly woman gazes out her living room window. The kids down the street built a palace out of bed sheets and fallen tree limbs. We stop and ask about their new kingdom. We ask the new neighbor, “How are you today?” We have time to listen and to be present.
We hear the river running softly over the rocks. A fox trots lightly across Weaver’s hayfield. A red-tail hawk circles overhead. We feel the earth beneath our feet and the breeze on our face. “We breathe God in, and we breathe God out, listening to the inner voice of Love that is always sounding in our heart,” writes the Reverend Margaret Bullitt-Jonas. A walk can set us free from the frenzy of our minds and restore our souls.
May we take our sweet time and walk closer to thee.
Blessings and peace,