For decades now, I've been a dedicated daily walker.
Everyone who knows me knows that I'm dependent on my daily walks: my husband, my kids, my neighbors, my friends. Particularly those who live with me are well aware that it's good for me to get my walks in... and not so good for anybody if I miss them, especially for days on end.
Walks keep me sane. It's true. Without them, I feel off kilter. I get impatient and snappy and frustrated with things that normally wouldn't phase me. I lose perspective. Energy drains out of me, and I become lethargic.
At the worst stage, after a few days of missing them, I stop thinking that I need those walks... when in fact, I need them more than ever. I convince myself that I'd be much better off catching up on tasks or spending time online or closing my eyes for a nap.
When I notice these symptoms, I know it's dire. I announce to whoever is in my vicinity that I need to go on a walk, immediately. The sooner I can get out the door, my feet propelling me forward on that path, the better for everyone.
My daily walk does me endless good.
Once I’m out, it takes only a few moments for me to see that there's more going on in the world than whatever is happening within my own little sphere. My walk gets me out of my head and paying attention to the beauty around me.
I have a favorite circuit that I tend to follow every day, and that path is worn by the daily pounding of my feet. It has been the source of comfort and inspiration, the recipient of frustration and tears, the listener to my prayers, the means to inner balance. Countless times, my walk has ushered me from a state of overwhelm into a state of contentment.
It has become holy ground.
On these walks, I become aware of God’s presence with me, of the beautiful creation surrounding me, of the friendly people I pass, of the brisk wind brushing my cheeks.
I also become aware of my internal movements – whatever has brought me down or lifted my spirits in the day – and as my feet propel me forward, my imagination turns toward possibility and hope.
When I go on my intentional walk, I’m reminded of the holy walk I’m on throughout the rest of life. My walk centers my spirit around what’s meaningful, true, and beautiful in my life.
And when I come in the door upon my return home, my walk doesn’t end there. It continues, into the house, into the rest of my day, into all my activities.
My feet keep going.
Just as they take me on my well-worn, sacred path, they also take me through the ordinary journey of my days.
Walking around the house as I tend to daily tasks, moving around the kitchen as I prepare dinner, stepping over things my children have strewn on the floor, standing in the shower as I feel the warmth trickle down, resting on the sofa as I read or write, tucked under my chair as I eat a meal with my family, meandering around the garden as I check on my newly planted seeds.
My daily walking practice helps me to realize, over and over again, that this walk we’re on – the walk of life – is holy ground. Each and every step of it.
An old Celtic prayer says:
Bless, O God, the earth beneath my foot
Bless, O God, the path whereon I go
I on your path, you on mine
And I would add...
Bless my feet
as they walk on holy ground.
Ponderings for Your Path:
Do you have any practices like this that help you regain perspective, give you energy and inspiration, and center you around what’s beautiful and meaningful in your life? It may not be walking – what is it for you?
What is “holy ground” in your life? What daily activities do your feet take you into? Do you sense God’s presence with you in those ordinary moments?
Blessing for your Journey:
May God bless the path you’re on
May God bless the earth beneath your foot
And may God bless your feet as you walk on the holy ground
of your daily journey, wherever it takes you. Amen.