For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been walking in the mornings – not at all something unusual. Except that it is Wonderfully Unusual.
A friend recently invited me to join her in her new practice of intentional, silent, contemplative walking. Together. While this seemed to be a practice more suited for solitude, I was intrigued, and agreed to join her.
At first, it felt strange to walk silently next to someone with whom I actually wanted to be better acquainted. I have questions I want to ask her. I want to engage in one-one-one dialogue; of listening and sharing. Yet, in the thud-thud rhythm of our feet on the sidewalk and synchronized swish-swish of our rain-jacketed arms, I’ve noticed something completely unexpected. As we walk in silence I am keenly aware of a deep-calling-to-deep connection — a sacred journey of sorts — smack-dab in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. How profoundly powerful, to walk side-by-side with another person who, for those moments, has the same intention of being fully present.
As a spiritual seeker, I’ve developed a level of observation that often allows me to see the sacred, not only in nature, but in ordinary and often man-made things. Yet, I’ve noticed an accelerated deepening of my senses as I journey with my silent companion. Somehow, in this joint activity, I become more fully myself, with a heightened sense of awareness and ability to notice things that seem to be wanting to show themselves to me:
- A plethora of well-chewed gum, stuck to a sign post at a neighborhood bus stop – a youthful statement of rebellion, as well as a desire to be noticed.
- A bright red rocking chair in a garden clearing near the sidewalk – a sign of welcome and of radical hospitality.
- A broken sidewalk – a powerful testament to the man-made concrete conceding to the God-made roots beneath it.
- Three cherry trees, planted in a row, at the same time, in the same soil and light conditions. One of them in nearly-full bloom, another beginning to bud and the third still deep in its winter dormancy – each a reflection of the perfect balance of the wisdom found in diverse reactions to the same situation.
- A child’s pedal-powered, 1950’s-era red metal car now parked in a garden and reimagined as a planter – embodying the passing of time and the sometimes-unwanted truth of the consistent presence of change in our lives.
- And, a worm on the sidewalk – a tender reminder of the very moment I fell in love with my husband over 20 years ago when he rescued such a humble creature from a hot sidewalk and placed it carefully in someone’s garden.
Would I have noticed these things, had I been walking alone? I have no way of knowing. Perhaps so, yet I am quite sure that their message to me would have been more muddled, more abstract, less substantial.
And so we journey on. In this contemplative, companionable just-short-of-power-walking pace, the miracle of our need for each other plays itself out. Like the glorious frog-concert that was part of our recent walk past a neighborhood pond, we each sing in our silence a song of harmony and oneness.
Shhhhhh — listen – can you hear it?
Ooh, I know this neighborhood you speak of, complete with its stop-sign “gum wall” and friendly red rocking chair. I love the way you keep your eyes open to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
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Thank you, Sarah! I also love praying for your family on the days when we walk past your house. Bless you!
Oh Lisa – what a perfect message for me on Ash Wednesday, the same day a neighbor sent me a “Lenten Challenge” – to walk just one mile EVERY day of Lent. What if, I walked… intentionally… breathed in and out… and really saw and felt and smelled and experienced… and relaxed. 🙂 Thank you! -k
Thank you, Kartha! I love being joined with you on this Lenten journey. Let’s compare notes as we BE while we walk!
Thank you, Wise Ones. How wonderful to be sharing this Lenten journey together in community!
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