Spirit Walking–Week 3 of Lent

“Keep walking!” says the Spirit; so I do. I am challenged by the convergence of sacred text, “walk after the Spirit” (Rom. 8: 4), and the weather, windy and capricious around here. “The Spirit blows where it wills”, Jesus says; so in my daily walking, how do I walk in the Spirit, and not in the “flesh?”

Who is this Spirit in my life? I have described it in the past as “energy.” It takes energy to get out of the house to walk every morning. It is so much easier to stay warm, comfy, and contented in my reading place, behind the newspaper, with a cup of tea or coffee.  But when I say yes to the available energy, push past the resistances, I find I have energy to walk, which then creates more energy, often for what lies ahead in the day. I am now walking farther than I did the first week. I also experience this in my vocational life; once I get past the resistances that whine “this is hard! this is no fun! this is complicated!” I feel a surge of more energy for the next right thing, for the new thing, for even unravelling the complicated problem.

I also believe that the Spirit is Wisdom, the One who teaches me what I need to know and when I need to know it. One of my blocks in choosing to walk with my body in trying to decide where to walk in this urban center in which I live. The sidewalks are unattended, certain times of the day feel treacherous, traffic is noisy and fast. But as I started this Lenten practice, I found that I really did know where and when to walk, what roads were safe. which were challenging, and what times suited my bio-rhythms. I have lived here a long time; I have observed the times and seasons of my block and neighborhood. It isn’t as hard as I have made it. To walk in the Spirit means to start out with what I know, trusting that the rest of the way, this week and the ones that follow will be made clear if I just begin.

That leads me to remember that the Spirit is often full of surprise! The gospeller John tells us that that the wind, the Spirit, that blows where it chooses, is one whose sound we can hear, but we don’t know where it comes from or where it is going (John 3: 8). It’s unpredictable around us and in us. On my walks I often see something that either was not there before, or I had not noticed before. So I am learning to put on my shoes ready for surprise. I have recently read of folk who energize their daily walks by looking for money on the road, then donate it to charity when they have reached a critical mass. So far I have found no coins on my path, but I have seen new birds, new dogs, new flowering trees, and new people. One of qualities of Spirit that I would like to grow is elasticity, an elasticity of Spirit, that can bend and move with the surprises on the way, a spirit that does not snap off in grief and protest when things come out of left field.

A favorite Spirit Walker of mine is Hildegard of Bingen. This is how she describes her walking:

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honour. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”

So maybe I am borne by the Spirit as I walk. I would love to have a sense both in quotidian foot-walking or in energetic life-walking, that I am safe and beautiful and meaningful as the feather on the breath of God.




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Graceful Virtues: A Reflection on the Grace of Yes by Lisa M. Hendey
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About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • http://www.marysharratt.com Mary Sharratt

    What a lovely post! I love the idea of walking as a spiritual practice.

    I’ve written a novel based on the life on Hildegard von Bingen, ILLUMINATIONS, which will be published in October 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Would you like to receive a free review copy? There’s a short summary of the book on my website (www.marysharratt.com), if you’re interested.

    Very best wishes,

  • sandy

    A walker is intentional (here I go!)
    and a feather is borne along (whee!)
    and I am grateful for the Spirit’s presence in the moments of choosing and intention,
    and in the moments of floating and freedom.
    I am walking with you this season,
    and I am trying to remember to float more often. :)
    Thanks, Elizabeth.

  • Erin

    Wow! You don’t know how much this post hit home for me…pushing past the resistance. My dad taught me long ago that inertia is what is so hard to break. When a 1,000 pound wagon wheel breaks past that relatively small moment of inertia where nothing is moving, suddenly it is rolling easily. (I asked him about this after reading about the sled dog pulling contest in Call of the Wild )

    The 1,000 pound wagon is me and my laziness, the pile of papers on my desk, the unrealistic list I have written for myself, the expectations I place on myself to do it all…….
    Sometimes, we just need to push forward and get rolling!
    Thank you for this gift,


  • Barbara

    I was toying with avoiding my walk today because I feel stiff and yucky. Reading your blog reminds me that I’ll feel better spiritually, mentally and physically if I walk, afterall. O.K. neighborhood…here I come. Thanks for the reminder

  • http://barrierfreeadventures.com thom

    As I was walking (painful knee amd all) this morning and thinking about this blog post, I remembered a post I wrote at Bleeding Daylight over two years ago and it made me smile to think of it. I had to go back to it and re-read (and listen to the short sermon excerpt toward the end)… Yeah… I’m walkin here… http://kickingatdarkness.blogspot.com/2009/10/im-walkin-here.html?m=1