I read somewhere that if you are stumped, in a creative black hole or want a new perspective on a problem, then taking a walk can switch something in your brain, so that options and opportunities open up. It spurs creative ideation, settles negative emotions and changes moods. I love a good walk. For 3.5 years I walked down the same beautiful street to work, watched seasons change, paying particular attention to the sounds and beauty before me. It was my morning and afternoon meditation. Rain, sleet, snow or sweltering heat, I walked because it brought me life and peace. It opened my eyes and my heart.
Twice in the past month, I got a chance to walk my neighborhood. On Good Friday, a group of churches did the Stations of the Cross at 12 different locations around the neighborhood. We walked, stopped, prayed, read scripture and listened to reflections from people from the various churches. As we walked from station to station, someone lead the processional with a cross held up before us. It was quite an experience. The walk put brick and mortar, pavement and parks, people and silence, earth and sky as backdrops to the Gospel story. I reminded me that God is not just in a church or chapel, he is outside in our everyday lives, on our streets, with us as we walk. He shows up in nature and his creation. This walk grounded me in that reality and to the truth that I am also a part of his ongoing story.
The second instance was the week before. It was a nice day and our formation facilitator decided to take us outside for our monthly reflection on one of the rules of life. This month, we were reflecting on the rule of hospitality. We were instructed to walk as a group and search for things within our general neighborhood that we thought represented hospitality. Someone pointed out our chapel, we invite anyone from the community to pray with us at 7am, 12pm and 6pm. Another person pointed out the school that is one block a way, as a representation of not just a school, but a community facility. The laugher of the children she could hear from her window was hospitable. I pointed out the prevalence of front porches, people sit on them, watch, listen, are available to their neighbors. Front parches also promote safety, as the presence of people sitting outsides provides “eyes on the street.” As we passed a cleaners, one gentleman noted that the woman there was always kind in her service to him. When we got to the main road, one of us stopped and pointed to the flowers out in front of the beauty shop as a way to be hospitable and make the business and street attractive. The best example of hospitality came out of the front door though. Marie, a stylist came out and asked us if she could help us, engaged us in a conversation about her business and even gave everyone a discount. She was genuinely open, interested and willing to provide service and assistance. She made all of us feel welcome. We returned home feeling expanded and surprised from the experience.
It is amazing what you can see and find if you put on a new lens. Whatever we go out looking for, we tend to find. A walk can be a break from something, an adventure, a means of transportation, a prayer, a ceremony or just a way to stay awake to the life, beauty and hospitality that is present around us. I hope you pay close attention on your next walk, I am sure you will be surprised by what you begin to see. I am sure this new seeing will reveal something of God’s beauty, truth and goodness to you.