This is what I know:

Walking makes me feel better. When I am able to get outside and walk I feel like I have more energy and stamina. I experience fewer aches and pains.

Walking helps me sort out my head. In a busy, fast-paced life of many decisions being able to take a few minutes to just think freely allows me to establish priorities and make better choices.

Walking lifts my spirits. I enjoy walking. I like the feeling of my own muscles taking me where I need to go.

I consume more than my fair share of fuel. Although my wife and I work in the same building, differences in our schedules mean that we rarely share rides to and from work. I have my own car and drive all over our city all the time. Compared to many of this earth’s inhabitants, I use way too much fuel.

Most people will greet you when you are walking. The slower pace encourages eye contact and at least a simple “Hello!” or “Good morning!”

Here is what I think:

Walking helps strengthen the ties between our church and our community. When I know exactly how far it is to walk from the rescue mission to our church, I understand the few people who make that trek to ask for assistance. When I walk from our church to another church in our community, I gain a physical sense of our closeness. When I walk through the neighborhood that surrounds our congregation I learn about the homes and the people who live in them. I even get to meet the neighborhood dogs.

The ancient discipline of walking prayer is at least as much about the walking as the praying. When one walks the connections between body, mind and spirit work better.

Walking is usually a very good investment of my time. Sure it takes a little bit longer to get from one place to another, but physical activity increases efficiency enough to more than make up for the difference.

Yesterday was a pleasant day, but it was a day filled with meetings. My first meeting started at 8:30 a.m. and my last meeting ended at 8:30 p.m. Between those meetings were 4 other meetings. It was the kind of day when I normally wouldn’t have enough time between meetings to do anything but use the restroom and comb my hair. I had a break long enough for lunch, but my evening meal had to wait until after the last meeting of the day. My longest meeting took over two hours. Another one took almost exactly two hours. That is a lot of sitting. I had enough time, however, to walk to my first meeting, which took place a little over a mile from my office. I allowed myself a half hour to walk each way, which was more time than I needed. The walking set the tone for the entire day. I was a bit more reserved in meetings. I listened more attentively to others. I was more patient. I didn’t get stiff from sitting in chairs all day long.

As a brief aside: Have you noticed that more and more board and meeting rooms are furnished with chairs on casters that wheel around and swivel? I have. Have you noticed that while those chairs look inviting, they really aren’t more comfortable than regular chairs without wheels? I have.

The Gospels report several conversations between Jesus and his disciples and between disciples as they are walking. One of the most famous is the appearance of Jesus to two disciples while they were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The distance is 6 1/2 or 7 miles. It was far enough for Jesus to interpret a whole body of scripture to the disciples and to comment on the relationship between the scriptures and the experiences they had just had in Jerusalem. It was almost far enough for the disciples to recognize the resurrected Christ as Jesus. That took just a bit longer - they recognized him when they shared a meal following the walk.

When we were younger and back packing more often, I tried to keep a day’s walk between 7 and 10 miles so there was plenty of time for other activities and we didn’t tire ourselves too much. When we are on vacation, we seem to average between 5 and 8 miles of walking if we don’t have too many miles to drive. The distance of the road to Emmaus seems just about right for a good conversation.

Walking and faith seem to go hand in hand in the bile and in my own life experience as well.

I have a lot of friends, however, for whom that much walking would be an impossible challenge. They live with disabilities that prevent them from covering so much distance. Even a short walk is a real challenge. Injuries, chronic illnesses, and other conditions make the task of walking an impossible challenge for some and force others to limit the amount of walking they can do. I’ve known several people who use wheelchairs for mobility. Some of them cover ground quite a bit more quickly than my normal walking pace. I have two friends in their 20’s who use wheelchairs following tragic accidents. Both know how to use the mechanical advantage of wheels to outpace those of use who are walking.

I could ride my bicycle. I enjoy that very much. However, because I need to drive from home to the office it seems that my bike is rarely in the place where I need it to get around. Sometimes it is just less hassle to simply walk. For several years, however, my brother was primary care giver for a man who used a wheelchair for mobility. He discovered that the bicycle and the wheelchair were an excellent match of pace for short excursions in the community. The pair, one in a wheelchair the other on a bicycle, became a familiar sight in their neighborhood.

Each step I take is a simple prayer of gratitude for having the ability to walk.

I do live in South Dakota. The forecast calls for snow all day today. I might not walk as much as yesterday. But spring is coming and there’s always tomorrow.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!