A Way of Walking – Option Two

Walking meditation is a Buddhist practice that trains you to focus on yourself and your body; the sensation of your footfall, the motion of your limbs, the sensation of breathing.There is another kind of walking meditation that gives you an outward focus. While this kind is most easily done in a city, it can be done in rural settings as well, particularly if you live in the country and can see the subtle signs.

This kind of walking meditation is often called a “prayer walk”. Many theologically conservative churches host these prayer walks in blighted urban neighborhoods with the assumption that poor people need to be “fixed” or “converted”.

I would like to suggest a less judgmental and more intuitive approach. Begin by praying for insight and an open heart. Then, by yourself or with someone else, walk through your neighborhood and pay attention to what you see. Some things may give you great joy; a house with a beautiful garden or interesting architecture. You may hear children playing or someone mowing the lawn. As you enjoy them, offer up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God. Other sights will be sad or worrying; gang graffiti or a house that was once beautiful now in disrepair. Notice who is looking out the window, what the cars look like, what the mood seems to be. Pray about that as well. Pay attention to smells and sounds and the feelings you have as you walk. Think about what would improve the area, and pray about that.

But this practice is not limited to the city. If you live out in the country, try walking the roads near your home. You will see some different kinds of things; gates and fences and even farm machinery. There are prayers to be found here, too; a mailbox with pink balloons for a new baby, a new roof on a barn. You might hear a bird that’s returned for the spring or new plantings in the side yard. Thank God. There are signs of distress that might not be visible to others, but you will see an elderly neighbor’s car that has been parked too long, or teenagers hanging out in boredom, or fields that should be producing that are dry and lifeless. Pray over it all.

On your return home, offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Then, if your walk convicted you of the need to call a neighbor, or connect with the Neighborhood Watch or volunteer with a local charity, act on it.


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