I have never been much of an athlete. I was part of a swim team for a few years. I always came in last. I played slow-pitch softball. I never got more than my mandatory three innings. As a catcher. The pitcher covered home if there was a play at the plate. I struck out every time. I was pretty terrible. But, I have always loved walking. As a youth, my dog and I would walk for hours exploring the woods near our house. We would walk to the dam that held back the waters of the lake where we lived. In the winter, we would trudge through the snow along the frozen surface of the lake. Walking meant solitude. Walking meant adventures. Walking was time to think and dream and imagine.
As a young adult, I went through a stretch where I was experiencing severe anxiety. I would wake up in the middle the night shaking and sweating, with a heaviness in my chest and short of breath. On my third late night trip to the emergency room, the doctor suggested... you guessed it... walking. "When you can walk a mile in fifteen minutes" He said, "do two. When you can do two in a half an hour, do three, build it up to an hour." I did what he suggested and that (gratefully) cured me. Walking was therapeutic. A tension reliever. Healing.
Today, I still love to walk. Almost every morning before breakfast and every evening before bedtime my wife, our dogs and I walk our neighborhood. Rain or shine, about a mile each time. As we walk, we talk about the day ahead or catch up on the day that has just passed. We have gotten to know our neighbors. We've met other walkers and their dogs. This morning we had a nice chat with a guy delivering sod to a house down the block. That's not the first time it's happened. (We have very cute dogs.) For us, walking is interactive. It's community. It's friendship.
During this month's God's Grace in Motion Walk-Run-Bike Challenge, I've added an extra mile to my walking. I try to get it in just before supper. On my treadmill. For me, walking has always been more than exercise. It is a spiritual practice. It is an experience of God's grace. I hope and pray that, whatever you are doing during this Challenge, whether it's walking or running or biking or just getting up and moving a little, it is giving you an experience of grace too.