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Walking through my life

By Cal Wiebe

winter forest sceneI’M WALKING THROUGH life. It’s taken a long time but I think I’m finally getting somewhere. It’s not that I’m going anywhere special. I always end up where I started but I still think I’m making progress… I’d better explain.

I have always found walking therapeutic. The regular rhythm of movement helps me to clear my head and puts me in touch with my deeper feelings and values. Four years ago I decided to make walking a regular part of my weekly routine. At the time I was feeling overwhelmed by a wide variety of internal and external demands. I wanted to give myself some time to listen to my life and gather perspective on it. Walking is the closest thing to meditation that I experience. I guess it’s my form of eyes-wide-open meditation.

I find walking helps facilitate a more contemplative state of consciousness in me. The natural environment shifts my way of seeing things. I am startled out of my reverie by encounters with animals and the landscape. I’ve had encounters with owls, prairie chickens, muskrats, rabbits, squirrels, deer, woodpeckers and countless songbirds. I never know what surprises await me around the next corner. The simplest things capture my attention. Last fall I stopped dead on the path because of the beauty of a single, pear-shaped, aspen leaf. The beauty in that shape broke through my normal way of seeing and beckoned me to be open to beauty in the rest of my life.

Eyes-wide-open meditationWalking in nature helps me stay in touch with the seasons and gives me perspective on the seasons of my life. There is hope in knowing that even on the coldest winter’s day, spring is waiting, waiting to be born. When spring is born the whole park erupts with life. Crocuses begin to flower, trees begin to bud and migratory birds return. Walking weekly in the same park helps me notice the subtle changes that happen as spring turns into summer.

It is the season of fruits and berries. As I make my way around the park, I stop at the Saskatoon shrubs and eat my fill of the ripe berries. Later in summer I grab a handful of chokecherries as they come into season. The bounty of nature amazes me. I recall the line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I find in these berries ample evidence that I am being provided for.

I am even gaining an appreciation for fall and winter. Fall gives the many splendored leaves. Winter grants those crisp mornings when new snow has fallen and everything is bathed in white.

I always seem to come back from these walks in a better frame of mind. My problems don’t evaporate but somehow I find that I have been given a fresh perspective on them. Sometimes I discover an insight. At other times I allow myself to feel the feelings I have been denying. I just come back with a renewed commitment and resolve to stay the course no matter how difficult things get. Walking is my prayer. I show up and present myself to God. I consciously acknowledge that I want to deepen my relationship with Reality. I trust God to honour my intention even if nothing spectacular happens on my walks. Just showing up is helpful. Undoubtedly, I am getting somewhere in my walks. I’m starting to listen to my life, to creation and to God. Prayerful walking makes life richer as I listen.

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