Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Year of Prayer: Reflections on Walking Prayer

So, yes. This month I focused on walking prayer, or walking with awareness. And it was a really convenient practice for me in a way, since I walk to and from work and so it's built into my day...except when it isn't. I will admit, that a number of times I forgot to walk with any awareness at all. Or perhaps more accurately, I was acutely aware -- but not of my surroundings. When you're running late, the crunch of the leaves is less noticeable for some reason. But I did in the end notice a lot of things, and it made me wonder how much of life I miss, or how much of life I might be intentionally trying to avoid. 

So a few things I noticed:

  • Leaves in Ontario are vibrant and beautiful
  • Leaves in Ontario are often wet, making them delightfully glossy, but not often crunchy (at least not this month)
  • Even though I'm not naturally a "nature lover," and I don't usually want to be outdoors, I actually need to be outdoors - it feeds me in much the same way that broccoli and green beans do. I don't adore them or want them in the way that I adore or want chocolate, but I need them and benefit from them (with even some enjoyment) as part of my regular nourishment.
  • I breathe more deeply when I'm trying to pay attention
  • Apparently, I regularly ignore what I'm taking in from my various senses. It was astonishing to simply notice things, focusing on one sense at a time
  • Dryer sheets smell hideous. When I'm walking along and breathing in the smells of grass and leaves, it is actually an assault on my senses when I walk past houses that are venting the smells of strongly scented dryer sheets. Even the naturally occuring negative odors were preferable
  • People in our neighbourhood seem to ignore each other, unless they both have dogs (this surprised me, I actually had the perception that our street was quite friendly)
  • I love slowing down
  • There is actually time to slow down. When I was in driver's ed as a teenager, our instructor was fond of telling us that speed kills. And that increasing our speed by 10km would only get us to our destination a few minutes sooner, but would exponentially increase the force of impact if we crashed. I think the term "speed kills," could be applied beyond the world of automotive transportation. I can actually choose to slow down, it won't seriously impact my departure and arrival times, but it will seriously impact my life
  • I am so very grateful for the little bits of nature that line my walk to work. The grass, the trees, the flowers and shrubs, the squirrels, the rabbits and the sky (small though it seems). All these little things serve to make a country girl just a little less claustraphobic
  • I am infinitely grateful that I can walk, feel the ground beneath my feet
  • God is in all things - which sounds trite, but definitely is not

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