“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.