Tuesday is walking day at our church. A small group gathers every Tuesday morning and heads out into the community. The purpose is to get a little exercise and to socialize with one another. There is no big agenda, no major expectation. We simply walk and talk, both at each individual’s own speed. The walk usually lasts about an hour and then we return to the church for coffee and more conversation.
Sometimes it is the very simple things in life that result in the most profound experiences. When this group started, I thought it would do well if it lasted a year. But here it is – still going and in these eight or nine years there have only been a couple of weeks when no one showed up to walk. Sometimes there has been only one or two people who showed up, but still the group goes on. Some of the participants have moved on or aging bodies have not allowed continued participation. But at the same time, others have joined the group.
We may wonder why a church would offer a walking group as part of its programming, especially one that has no specific agenda – no organized prayer, no study – just walking and talking … or not talking. Sometimes there is silence.
Well, it is on these walks that we sometimes experience our spirituality. There is the conversation with one another that is often about very casual, light-hearted things. But on occasion there is a deeper conversation about what is happening in people’s lives or in the world. At these times there is a sense of communal caring that is definitely part of our spirituality. At other times there is the wonders of nature – even in the city. There are song birds (and yes, crows and grackles), squirrels and rabbits (even the ones that eat our gardens), butterflies and flowers, sun and rain. All of these connect us with creation and the Holy.
There is also the hustle and bustle of city life – and even that is connected to the spiritual. The cars going by carrying fellow workers, visitors, shoppers. These are people who are part of our community, people we are connected to whether or not we have ever met them. There are emergency vehicles rushing by indicating there is someone out there who may be hurt or in trouble and someone else is rushing to help. And as we witness this, we might pause to offer a silent prayer or just send out our thoughts of concern. Whatever is happening, we know we are somehow connected in this larger community. We are not alone.
And this walking, this exercising of the body, lifts our spirits. It makes us feel good, even if our knees get a little stiff when we stop and our joints ache. We breathe a little deeper and feel a little more relaxed and know that we have somehow connected with the Holy in our lives. It is good!