My wife and have taking up walking in the past year. Naturally, we have always been able to walk, but we have decided to go for long walks. Long for us, anyway. Currently we are doing up to 10 kms a day.
The reason? We are looking forward to walking part of the Camino in Northern Spain. No, we are not Catholic and no, we are not interested in whether the bones of St. James are in Santiago or not. But we do like the idea of the medieval history that this pilgrimage links to and we love Spain.
That is why we are practising our walking. As my wife put it, “I don’t want to look stupid after after the first few kms!”
However, I have noticed other benefits, apart from allaying the fear of looking stupid. I’ve lost 5 Kilos, I’m fitter but there is more, and they are not steak knives. Walking means you encounter life – often missed when in the car. When we traverse our neighbourhood we encounter people. In the bush or along the rail trails we encounter nature, beauty, stillness and an amazing sense of peace – and other walkers. Walking and camping brings you closer to people.
As a couple we talk, plan, observe and, even after 38 years, discover more about each other as we amble.
That brings me to Jesus. He didn’t drive a car. If he had, he would never have met his disciples, encountered people in distress, or the pair on the road to Emmaus. Walking was an important part of the way Jesus encountered people; in situ, in their everyday life. I’m not arguing for a theology of walking but I am suggesting that for Christians to be effective they need to be in places where they can encounter people.
It is time to get out of this chair and practise again. I don’t want to look stupid!