Thanks to the long weekend, the Folkie, camping trips, work deadlines, sickness and visiting friends, we had a super-small turn out tonight. So we ditched the usual service, and instead used our Liturgy for a Prayer Walk, something we keep up our sleeve for quiet Sundays. We listened to the Scriptures, and prayed, then went walking. Some of us walked the neighbourhood (described here); some did the prayer labyrinth (here); some blessed the earth with their feet (here). This is what we noticed:
- A woman blessed the earth with her bare feet. She noticed how soft, warm and responsive the earth is. In all her usual shoe-wearing rushing about, she had forgotten. She found herself wondering if the earth loves her, and how she could better love the earth. A couple of children, who are barefoot all the time, were amazed that an adult could forget!
- A father and son walked the neighbourhood. They noticed how many human services there are: hospital, physiotherapist, skin clinic, funeral director, and so much more in just a block or two. It reminded them of human vulnerability and need, and how dependent we all are on others.
- A mother and her daughters walked in the other direction. They noticed fungi and flowers, and how fruitful the earth is, even in built-up places. They appreciated walking with no destination and no sense of hurry: it made them realise how often they are in a rush to get somewhere.
- Someone observed how we walked for just a short time – fifteen minutes in the middle of the service – and yet how profoundly quiet and contemplative that time could be. She commented that most of us rarely stop for even that little time to think and listen and pray.
- An eleven-year-old tried prayer walking with all her senses. She particularly noticed all the small sounds going on around us all the time: “I don’t usually notice,” she said, “because I love to chat!”
- Someone walked the labyrinth. On her way in, she laid down her burdens and discovered there is far more ‘room’ than her burdens usually permit her to see. On the way out, she named gifts and began to sense just how abundantly she is blessed.
- Someone noticed that prayer walking is more than doing nothing. The rhythm helps quiet jittery monkey minds, and provides a focus. Someone else commented that contemplatives often use simple repetitive tasks to help them quiet down and listen to God.
- Someone remembered a saying: When you pray, move your feet. And that reminded someone else that movement and language can be closely related. We remembered a child in our congregation, who has just learned to jump and whose vocabulary has taken a corresponding leap. And we wondered if movement can help us find language to speak with and listen to God.
- Someone observed that our culture is very sedentary; yet movement, including singing, helps us not only focus, but experience relaxation and joy.
- One man stopped to smell the roses! and he noticed some roses smell beautiful, and some have no smell at all. Why is that?!
So those are the observations from our prayer walk today. What do you notice when you walk and pray? Have you ever walked prayerfully in your own garden? Around your neighbourhood? Why not go for a slow walk, and listen for God’s voice. Perhaps you will discover something new about the place you live in, or about God, or about yourself.
A Sanctuary conversation, 8 March 2020 © Sanctuary, 2020. Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash. Sanctuary will return with a more formal reflection next week – and don’t forget our series on healing, uploaded to this website daily during Lent.
When you pray, move your feet!
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