There is a piece in the current issue of America Magazine titled The Walking Cure. In it, Michael Rossmann, S.J., talks about the benefits of walking, such as our increased openness to pleasant surprises and simple beauties we would easily miss if we were driving, the opportunities to engage in conversation with others, and the way it puts us in a more relaxed state.
I read the piece with pleasure because walking is a favorite pastime of mine. I love long hikes in the woods, but also afternoon or early evening walks in a nearby park or just around my neighborhood. Apart from the physical exercise, and the part my daily walks play in my training for the Camino I will walk this fall, walking clears my mind, slows me down and allow me to be mindful.
I also resonate with Rossmann’s discussion of walking and productivity. He writes
More than this, walking like prayer, makes me feel more like a human being, rather than a human doing. Sure, I could travel in a way that is far faster or spend my time producing more, but I often feel more liberated when I realize that I don’t always have to produce. I don’t always have to rush form place to place. I slowly learn with each step that life is not about efficiency or productivity.
Rossmann observes that people sometimes ask him where he is going during his evening walks, and seem perplexed when he responds, “I’m just walking.” When I read that, I was reminded of my time in Bali many years ago. In Indonesia, “jalan, jalan” – just walking – is a common evening pastime. The people in Indonesia see nothing at all perplexing about it.
It would be good if more people here could enjoy just walking, doing nothing but appreciating God’s creation.