Wednesday 24th March 2021

Day 36 Walk, Breathe, Enjoy

In these reflections I am having to be very disciplined not to write too many of them about walking! When I think of nature I think of walking. I am not the gardening type, I am not one for sitting out in the garden or park, I am not a photographer or painter, neither a sailor, cyclist, or much of a runner; my passion is walking. It is through walking that my main connection with the natural world comes. That, of course, makes me a real evangelist of walking. I think everyone who is capable of walking should walk, and most people do not walk enough. I am not talking specifically of going on great long hikes, but I believe that those who are physically able to walk should spend time walking regularly; enjoying the world in a way that can only be done by getting out and about it.
Most of us do walk. We walk out of necessity. We walk, even if it is just to get something out of the fridge, or take the bins out. But how many of us walk out of choice? How easy it is to jump in the car to go less than a mile down the road, or hop on the bus, when walking there would be far better for us. We rely too much on other means of transport rather than our feet. It’s amazing how many adults you see propelling themselves along the pavement on a scooter. Anything but walk!
Others go to the opposite extreme and march their way through life. They walk, but its speed walking, whether it’s to catch their train or to build up their fitness. I am all for walking to build up our fitness, I personally think it is the best form of exercise. However bounding along with headphones on, being totally unaware of the beauty of the world around them seems such a waste. I am not one for dawdling, I like to step out a bit, but walking needs to be at a pace at which we can pay attention to things; marvel at the wonder of things; and notice the beauty of our world, even if it is just a wild flower that has forced its way through concrete or brick.
For me a good walking pace is around 3 miles an hour, it gives you a decent work out for your health, but is slow enough to stop and stare, as the poet W.H. Davies encouraged us to do. But the important thing is to walk.

Luke 24

Two were walking to a village called Emmaus,
about 7 miles from Jerusalem.
As they walked and talked together,
Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
but they did not recognise him.

On day twenty five of these Lenten reflections I mentioned the Japanese theologian, Kosuke Koyama, who spoke about the three-mile-an-hour God. He speaks of a God that moves through our world at walking pace; gently, lovingly, attentively. I love that concept of God. When we walk we walk with God. When we walk, saunter, stroll, we slow down to God’s pace and allow God to walk with us, beside us; as the Risen Christ did with those disciples on the road to Emmaus. When we walk in God’s world we are surrounded by the holy, immersed in the holy; we walk with Christ, even if we do not recognise him.

God moves at walking pace
Gliding across this beautiful earth
Ambling in the midst of life.
Not rushing, not marching, but meandering;
Sauntering at a gentle pace,
Pausing occasionally; admiring, noticing,
Enjoying, renewing, blessing.
You fail to experience this,
If you charge around in busyness;
Filling up space, wanting instant.
You have to adjust, slow down,
Amble a little yourself,
Taking time to tune in.
Live your day at walking pace,
And you will occasionally recognise,
A Holy Companion.