Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Year of Prayer: Month 3 - Walking Prayer

So I intentionally picked walking prayers for October, which seemed like a no-brainer for a person who dislikes being outside in the heat, and who lives in Southern Ontario where the fall colours are delightful. It's actually more surprising to me that I picked walking prayers at all. Maybe not surprising in a more recent sense, but if I consider my past understandings of prayer, it's definitely a bit off the beaten track!

Years ago, if you would have told me that taking a walk was prayer I would have looked at you funny, and then assumed that you meant I could walk and while doing so, talk to God. It took me quite a long time to get my head around the idea that a particular physical action could, with intention, actually be prayer or communion with God. I think it first started to sink in while I was chopping vegetables one day a number of years ago. There was just a moment when I realized that I was doing more than chopping, or maybe being more than someone doing dinner preparation. I had a different awareness of what my body was doing, a different awareness of my self, of my surroundings, of God. 

It's very very easy for me to exist in my head, while simultaneously existing outside my body. Or perhaps it makes more sense to say, it's easy for me to exist in my mind and outside my body. Sometimes I arrive somewhere and I'm surprised, because I can't recall having passed all the landmarks on the way. Or I wander down to the dryer to put something in the freezer. I am simply and completely unaware of my present circumstance as my mind races ahead of my physical self. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this! 


So October will be a gift of noticing my self, my environment and God as I walk. This is easily built into my day since I walk to work. As I walk I want to walk with the intention of engaging my senses, paying attention with my whole being, rather than planning the rest of my day while I race past a world of sensory experiences. I want to notice the feeling of my feet on the pavement, and hopefully the crunch of leaves dropped by overhanging trees; the sounds of birds, and traffic, and households spilling out into the world; the smells of ...all the things that smell in my neighbourhood, good and bad; and the colours, the grey of concrete, the vibrant greens, golds, oranges and reds of the foliage. And maybe if I find that I've passed the shockingly aqua house  partway down my street without noticing, I should have to start over again! 


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