For many years, every morning I would run, then take a walk, not so much in the dangerous highways but in the forest, gardens patches and trails, school compounds and parks.. I do it to contribute to my physical well-being, though I do it more to stay spiritually fit for I talk best to God when I walk, run or while planting.
Henry David Thoreau once quipped “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” I’ve often said that the two soles of my feet must have a direct connection to my soul because I can pray best when I walk.
I ran and walked so much as a boy on living near pine woods in Baguio that are now long gone.. I would often have to walk to get firewood, to church to serve as sacristan, go to school, sell newspapers, shine shoes or do an errand for my mom to market. Then too, I recall walking on the lane going out to Session road doing my evening chores like fetching kitchen slop for pigs. I’d end up talking to God while walking, so walking became my mode of prayer; I’ve just continued the habit all of these years.
Research says people who walk at least four times a week think more creatively. I find it true that I can be more creative when I’ve had my walk with the Lord. Speaking of being creative, I believe He is also able to create within me a greater presence of Himself, and mold me more into His image. Like King David I often pray on my walk, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Everyone is different, but I’m a firm believer in the prayer walk. Some may kneel or sit when they pray, but I must walk. My walk is a daily appointment with God every morning, come rain or shine, heat or cold. In fact, I’ll be heading out for my walk in just a few minutes. Walking in harsh weather conditions becomes a sacrament for me, expressing resolve to walk with the Lord no matter what life brings. On the other hand, walking on a beautiful morning brings its own rewards of finding praise and thanksgiving flowing more easily as I bask in the beauty of the day.
I have the blessing of walking in nature, not on man-made sidewalks with man-made structures all around. I take a path through the woods behind my place and along the neighbor’s fields. There’s God’s handiwork all around! I often spot birds and sometimes a lazy lizard. God also paints the eastern sky differently every morning. Each season provides unique delights from budding leaves to falling pine needles.
I sometimes reflect that there is no other human being within a quarter of a mile when I’m out on my walk. It’s God and me, alone with each other. There’s an old hymn titled In the Garden. I know, many think it’s a syrupy type song (including my wife) but I have to admit that I can identify with the lyrics. “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and he talks with me…”
There are different spiritual practices for relating to God in a regular and intimate way, but for me walking works best. I better wrap this up. My walking Partner is waiting…but this time, I will walk with Him in my thoughts and heart.
(On February, 2013, I walked 160 km. from Sagada, Mountain Province to Baguio city, Philippines for five days to protest the killing of trees in the city.)