In praise of walking

There comes a time when you ought to take a walk.

Walking to cool down

You are not likely to take a walk here to cool down literally anytime soon. The past few days if you took a walk in the middle of the day it might be more like a preview of the fiery eternal destination. But there is such a thing as taking a walk to cool down metaphorically.

Sometimes it can seem like everything in life is pressing in on you. Or it can feel like a person or situation has rooted itself deep inside you. Taking a walk can get you out of your guts and into a different world. If you take a walk in the right place, you will become aware of a whole different world of small creatures. Their life goes on whether you are having trouble paying your bills, or facing a tough situation at work, or trying to figure out how to deal with that one particular person.

There is something about a fresh situation that can help you reframe how you are looking at things. Breathing in the fresh air (as long as you’re not in the wrong part of York) helps your body reset itself. Watching for things you wouldn’t normally notice helps your mind rest and reset. Go walking to help clear your RAM and reboot your mindset.

Walking to slow down

This week my car would have been t-boned in York four times if I hadn’t waited well into a green light. People are living their life with such a sense of urgency that they are running red lights to get wherever they are going. No one intentionally sets out to ruin someone else’s life. But put two harried and hurried people pushing boundaries while driving vehicles at the same intersection at the same time and the results could be fatal.

People like us are trying to cram so much into the 24-hour day we each have. Our culture is teaching us to treat each day as an orange: squeeze as hard as you can and throw the rind away. There should be little wonder that we need weekends and vacations!

Maybe it is time to renew the art of receiving each day as a gift. You might be amazed what you become aware of if you slow down. A walk is a good way to force yourself to slow down and receive the world around you. As you watch the cars going by, you will see just how many people drive with their head buried in their lap watching their phone. You will see the squirrels scampering after each other in hopes of procreation, and how many squirrels met their Maker on the pavement recently.

Walking to connect

There are times when taking a walk can be just the excuse to connect with someone. A couple miles of walking would look great on most of your friends! There’s something about the movement of walking that can give your conversation almost a public privacy (as weird as that sounds). If you are going on a long walk, the conversation can unfold. All topics are up for grabs.

Most of us could use more input in our lives from people who actually know us well. Sometimes we are most afraid of sharing with those closest to us. It is invaluable to have people in your life who respect you and know your personality, who you can talk through issues and situations with. A long walk can go a long way toward making this happen.

Walking to stay grounded

We have come to expect chaos from Washington, D.C. Mere gridlock, where nothing productive is happening but nothing catastrophic is happening either, can look pretty appealing lately. Sometimes you need to take a walk to remember that we all put our pants on (or leave our pajama pants on!) in the morning and we all put one foot in front of the other on this earth.

One of the great challenges of small town America is the degree to which we interpret our world based on decisions made in Lincoln or D.C. Maybe going on a walk every now and then would help remind us that no matter who the president is, or what the media is buzzing about, or what the latest legislation is, we can impact our world. Our kids need us to be parents who are deeply present in their lives. Our churches, clubs, and other community organizations will be a direct reflection of what we invest in them. Our community will be the kind of place people like us make it.

Can you get all that from walking? There is no guarantee. But you might be surprised how slowing down and putting one foot in front of the other reminds you of your humanity. And we could use a bit more humanity in our world.

 

——-

Dr. Jon Wymer

Jon works as the pastor of York Evangelical Free Church in York, Nebraska. He also serves part-time as a chaplain in the Nebraska Army National Guard and at Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha.