Walking is for noticing

May 22, 2014 by

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Walking is the fastest pace for noticing. Go out and have a good walk today, notice your neighborhood, enjoy its sounds and smells and sights. Anchor yourself and find where you belong. Refresh your spirit and your soul.

I posted this suggestion on Facebook and Twitter yesterday and have been thinking about it ever since.

All of us know that walking has benefits for our physical health. Just 30 minutes, five times a week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces the risk of colon cancer, helps control body weight, increases bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis. And that’s only part of the list.

Walking is one of the best things we can do for our spiritual well being too. Not walking as in stair climber or gym, not running either, though they can have benefits, but walking as in getting out to explore our neighborhoods.

Walking is fun, relaxing and for most of us, easy to do. It’s also the best way to notice what goes on in us and around us. It is the only pace at which we really do see and hear and smell all that is happening around us.

I love to walk around the garden each morning to see how much my vegetable plants have grown overnight. It is also a great time to commune with God and draw closer to the One who has created all that I see around me. Each moment and thing has the potential to become a vehicle for revelation. Walking can open us up to new ways to experience God and the world around us. Each step contributes to the rhythm of our life and its revelation can overflow into the whole of our life. It is a gift that draws us towards God and towards others.

Walking is also one of the best way to get to know our neighborhoods, our neighbors and our friends. I love to walk the dog around the neighborhood, noticing who is working on their garden, which yards look neglected and who else is out there enjoying the local park. People often stop to say hello. They share stories about themselves, their gardens and their pets. And I love to walk around the city noticing the urban lots transformed into p-patches (a term for garden lots specific to Seattle), the new skyscrapers rising into the sky, and the homeless people asleep in the doorways.

Interestingly, the best speed for walking according to coolwalking is “as fast as you can without losing the ability to hold a conversation.” Walking is not meant to be done alone. It is meant to be done in company with others. As I think of that I am reminded of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them (Luke 24:14,15). So often when we walk and talk with others it is as though Jesus walks with us, explaining the scriptures and the ways in which they reveal who he is.

Walking is for noticing not just sights sounds and smells but God and neighbors and friends.

Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God Space, where this post originally appeared. 

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