During the months of winter, I became a convert to walking – walking for health, walking for a break in the day, walking as a means of prayer. I have long known that simply getting up and taking a few steps can change one’s perspective, and I have certainly often been told of the many benefits of walking. Then, by accident, I came across Augustine’s words, “it is solved by walking,” and I became a believer.
I began walking with intention. I began to see walking as a means to clear my mind and my head. I began to understand walking as a statement of faith: each step moves you forward. Literally. And in all of this, I began to walk with words so that my steps, my thoughts, and my breath, all in communion with one another, became a means to re-spirit my soul.
In these lengthening days of spring, there is a great deal for nearly everyone to do. Students are frantically trying to wrap up the end of the year – papers, projects, exams. Professors are buried beneath end of the year grading. Staff members are not only faced with the end-of-of-the-year pace, but also with all of the on-going work, that for many gets more intense over the summer, rather than slowing down. Trying not to become overwhelmed can be a task in itself.
In the midst of all of this, I encourage you to – every day -- take five minutes or ten, stop what you are doing, and walk. Walk around your building – inside or out. Walk to the building next door, and then turn around and come back. Walk to a colleague across campus, just to say “hi.” Move away from your computer, your books, your phone, your to-do list, and take a few minutes to put one foot in front of the other and breathe.
As you do so, choose a specific thought or prayer to repeat over and over in your mind. Match the words with your steps. Breathe intentionally, and you just may find that you will return to your work refreshed and re-spirited.
To get you started, here are some of my favorite walking meditations:
I am here; I am whole.
Gratitude for today, and gratitude for tomorrow, whatever it may bring.
I am beloved of God.
I am precious in God’s sight.
God has plans for me.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Love comes in; fear goes out.
One step forward at a time.
These moments of walking, breathing, and meditating are not a magic wand, nor are they a “cure all,” but they will help to bring peace and balance amid your very full life. Just a few minutes -- breathing and walking with words -- and perhaps you too will discover that indeed, it is solved by walking.
God bless the steps you take –
April 23, 2013
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.