In Praise of Walking

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 40, Lent 2007

Walking – to dispel gloom, lift the spirits; a reminder to notice, to wonder and marvel.

Walking – to pacify the body, quell fidgets, settle an excess of energy.

Walking to do the bones a favour, sinew, muscle and lungs.

Walking to connect with the good moist earth – the squishing of cold sand between toes, the lushness of dripping grass, the dry graininess of pine needles, round warmth of cobble stones, gritty concrete path, knotty sinew of roots.

Walking to ground with all lowly creatures: snail-trailing estuary mud oozing up under toes, cowpat and sheepshit in boggy paddock, spiderweb tickling the face, thistleprick spiking the leg.

Walking to reconnect with birdsong, dogbark, lamb bleat, cicada clack; the furry leg-weaving greeting of cat, the flirting branch-hopping of fantail, flashing brilliance of butterfly, fragrant shimmer of ti kouka in wild blossom.

Walking to remind me of who I am – my place in the kaleidoscope of all creation.

Walking with all who’ve gone before – feet on the Hikoi of Hope, feet marching for peace in Vietnam, in Iraq and Afghanistan; in solidarity with the oppressed of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Walking in the light of our loved ones gone before, honouring the memory, grateful for felt strength and support.

Walking to remind of the poor who lack bus fares, those dispossessed of water supply and communal garden: the struggle to feed and house your family.

Walking to save the planet, to lighten my footprint on God’s good earth, to show there is another way.

Walking with the disciples, our feet dusty and dispirited on the road to Emmaus; with Simon of Cyrene shouldering the cross, staggering in step with the suffering one.

Trying to walk in the footprints of Jesus, a daily discipline of love and labour. Walking in joy with glimpses of heaven and flashes of glory powering our feet, lighting the Way, leading us home.

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