I love to walk. It’s in my bones.
When I’m feeling nervous or unsure, I walk. When I’m excited and itching to get outdoors, I walk. When I need inspiration, I walk. When I don’t know what else to do, I walk.
I love to walk.
I’ve walked neighborhoods and city streets in the places I’ve lived. I’ve walked from village to village during my time in West Africa. I’ve walked with parishioners to talk through life challenges. I’ve walked with my mom in state parks and nature preserves. I’ve walked with my daughter and dog around our town of 1,000 people.
Walking is in my bones.
Now that summer’s in the air, and blue skies and warm temperatures are upon us, walking is on my mind. The start of summer is a great time to get outside and start a walking routine. Here are three spiritual lessons I’ve learned while walking:
1. Walking forces us to slow down and notice creation.
One year during Lent I gave up walking with headphones. Walking became one of the few times when I unplugged. Walking forced me to really see my surroundings, hear the sounds of nature and feel the ground beneath my feet.
When you’re afraid of what path to take, take one step. When you have doubts about yourself and your faith, take one step.
Since then I’ve come to relish walking without anything other than the sounds of life around me. When I walk, I hear the sounds of God’s voice speaking to me—in the laughter of children, in chirping birds, in rustling leaves, in neighbors greeting neighbors. And if I’m quiet enough, I’ll hear God’s still, small voice amid the silence.
2. Walking teaches us to always put one foot in front of the other.
Once I walked across Spain in the summer on a pilgrimage for 33 days. There were some mornings when I woke and thought to myself: How will I be able to walk today? Inevitably, I’d get out of bed and take those first few painful steps. And with each step, over time, my body would remember what to do and the pain would subside.
What that trip taught me was that sometimes all we can do is simply put one foot in front of the other. When you’re afraid of what path to take, take one step. When you have doubts about yourself and your faith, take one step. When you’re angry and hurt, take one step. One foot in front of the other is as holy a response to life as I can imagine.
3. Walking brings us into community.
Whenever I walk I am reminded that I do not walk alone. Whether I’m walking my town’s streets or walking to the communion table, I remember that there is a whole cloud of witnesses who have gone before me. There are people who have walked the same path as me, and there will be people who will follow after me.
We may feel alone in our journeys and walks, but our faith teaches us that with God at our side we walk in community. We do not walk alone.
This summer get outside. Stretch your legs. Walk. Breathe deeply. Listen. What spiritual lessons will you find while walking?