“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
Back in February I took to walking thanks to my friend Canon Sue Paulton, who had a troop of us walking to Jerusalem. It was challenging walking in winter – especially since this was a particularly cold February – March was not a lot better really. But, it was life giving for me. I needed to get moving – exercise is important for good health and I have been trying hard these past eight months to get healthy again. Sue’s encouragement to walk a couple and a half kilometers a day from February 5 till Easter Sunday in an effort to figuratively walk from Capernaum to Jerusalem was just what I needed when I needed it. I did not get the nearly 200 km done before Easter. I managed to get over half way, but for a variety of reasons I slowed in Holy Week and it took a few weeks afterwards Easter to get back up to speed.
After reaching my goal, I began hiking in some of the wonderful trails in the Forest City. I must say it has been an enriching experience. I have been walking in Komoka, The Sifton Bog, and Warbler Woods and look forward to trying our other trails over these next few weeks. I have found my time in the trails to be good not just for my physical health, but good for my mind and soul as well.
Time on the trail provides great opportunity to think. Time is something that I often waste – as most of us do with frivolous things. The walking has reminded me that I need to take time, not just to look after my physical health but to tend to my spiritual needs as well. Walking is a good contemplative space. It provides much needed solitude. Thomas Merton asserted that “the greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds,” and that was over 50 years ago! I think the need for that has only intensified. Today I spent almost five hours in the Komoka woods. It was a wonderful way to clean out the mid of what I am know is a gi-normous amount of mental and emotional trash! Among other things I brought in my bag today, was a book with stories and sayings from the Desert Fathers. Among the words I read were these:
“What is more precious than anything in the world? Time! And what do we waste uselessly and without being sorry? Time! What do we not value and what do we disregard more than anything? Time! When we waste time, we lose ourselves… Time is given by God to use correctly for the salvation of the soul and the acquisition of the life to come… The Lord will call us to account for having stolen time for our own whims, and for not using it for God and our souls.”
St. Sebastian of Optina
I shall rest tonight feeling that I took the time given me for Sabbath this Monday and have honoured it as a gift. The gift of time offered me allowed me to commune with God in solitude.
I would be interested in reading your stories of walking. Where are your favourite places to walk? Do you like to walk alone? Do you walk in a group? Tell me about your walking and how you commune with God…..