Editor’s Note: Former DCSC volunteer, Matthew Fichter, reflects on the gift of a walk, taking a moment to pause and slow down. He shares of the simple, yet often overlooked, act of walking can help us to grow closer to the Lord in slowing down and trusting His steady guiding hand.
Perhaps for some, life during the Coronavirus pandemic has seen a shift in pace and deceleration from its standard tempo. For me personally, less time spent traveling in cars or taking the bus to and from various destinations, has created a greater incentive to spend time in the great outdoors, walking and enjoying life one step at a time. More so than in the past, I have learned to appreciate walking and how truly wonderful and magnificent it is. Not only is it better for mother earth, who suffers from the negligence of an often fast paced world, but also for our frame of mind, sense of inner peace, and physical health. If that is not enough, below are some additional reasons for why walking is so great. Included in this list are words from Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the best-known Zen teachers in the world today, in his guide titled How to Walk.
- When we walk, we can free our minds from the stress of navigating a moving vehicle, and become more aware of our surroundings. We can take notice of the artwork of nature, the sky, the birds, the stars, the moon, flowers, trees, squirrels, the people we pass, the architecture of the buildings and homes around us, the smells and sounds of our environment. When we move too fast, many things we would notice while slowly walking, get overlooked.
- We can walk in most weather conditions. Whether it be raining, snowing, or sunny, we can take to the sidewalks of the city or trails in nature. Just be sure to dress appropriately.
- Not every living creature or person on earth has the ability to walk or traverse mother earth on two legs and two feet. When we walk, we can walk for others who might not be able to. We can also walk in honor of our deceased brothers and sisters who walked the earth before us.
- “Mindfulness is the continuous practice of deeply touching every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly present with your body and your mind . . . We don’t need to make a separate time for this outside of our daily activities. We can practice mindfulness in every moment of the day as we walk from one place to another” (Hanh 15).
- “We frequently walk with the sole purpose of getting from one place to another. But where are we in-between? With every step, we can feel the miracle of walking on solid ground. We can arrive in the present moment with every step” (Hanh 8).
- “We’re in such a rush . . . We are walking, but in our minds we are already doing something else: planning, organizing, worrying. There is no more need to run. Every time we return our attention to our breath and our steps, it’s as if we wake up. Every step brings us back to the here and now” (Hanh 19).
In further reflection on what it means to walk, perhaps our relationship with God is much like the loving parent who observes his children learning how to walk. As our Creator and Father in heaven, I imagine God smiling ear to ear every time we take a step closer to Him. I imagine God jumping for joy off His heavenly throne every time we turn from our misguided ways or stand back up after hitting the back of our heads on the corner of the living room rocking chair. He knows the bumps and the bruises hurt, but He is there patiently and lovingly encouraging us every time we fall to get back up and keep going. There is no limit to His encouragement or his patience. Perhaps it is our perseverance alone and determination to continue seeking His will one step at a time that pleases Him most. As we continue our spiritual walk with God, I pray to remember His infinite love for us and never fading forgiveness. I also pray to trust God in our walk with Him, and to trust that He is leading us in the direction of eternal joy and happiness despite the confusion, pain, anxiety, or suffering we may currently be enduring or anticipating. Despite the dark valleys, He is always by our side.