I had a profound experience going on a long walk. Now I’m having profound experiences walking. What is happening? What is the Lord saying? I’ll try to explain.
This isn’t about exercising, weight loss, or being physically fit- although it all seems to happen as a byproduct. It isn’t about oxygenating, although that happens. It isn’t about being out in nature or observing the countryside, which of course happens every time. Our tendency is to try to make the walk mean something, and the effort of walking mean something more, when, in fact, the walk and the walking are mere vehicles one rides in for this wonderful discovery and adventure.
The walk of profound experience was the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile foot-path across Spain, known as a Christian Pilgrimage, accomplished by millions over the last 1100 years or so. In 2013, my year, about 225,000 pilgrims made their way to the cathedral in Santiago de Compestela for the Pilgrim’s Mass at noon, to celebrate physical accomplishment and spiritual discovery. Multi-generational, multi-faith, multi-experiential, and certainly multi-testimonial it was for all.
The end, however, seems to have been the beginning. What started as a pure and simple “unction,” (that which I try to explain but can’t do very well), was an actual “obedience” to the voice of the Lord to simply obey and do a thing. To “feel” God speaking, to “hear” Him whispering in your inner person, to “know” that you just have to go do this thing, amazing and exciting as it was, but not scary or intimidating, may boggle the mind even as it frees the soul! One does what one has to do.
So, it’s done, right? What was never even ON the ‘bucket list’ is now checked off, and life can return to normal. Ha. The end of the Camino, you see, unleashes the beginning of more wonder, more discovery, and more awe of God.
I’m almost 70 years old, so I’ve done a lot of walking. Walking has always been a way to get somewhere and is so common to all of us that talking about it seems a bit ridiculous. Except that now walking is no longer the act of getting somewhere, but rather the vehicle one rides in along a journey, a Camino, a path. That is, if one “gets it.”
Walking, you see, requires more than effort, calorie burn, oxygen exchange, etc. Walking requires perspective. Perspective opens the doors of wonder. Or not.
Walking to get from here to there is accomplishment all its own. No big revelation, and no real discovery; no wonder; no awe. It may be beneficial in many ways, but probably not very spiritual or transformative. But that’s what we seek, as people, is to get beyond the practical and TO the spiritual, because we know in our knower’s that something greater is happening, something more than we comprehend is all about us.
The new kind of walking I’m enjoying has nothing to do with getting someplace, but rather to BE someplace. The world gets shut out as I walk. My mind gets the chance to think and to “try thoughts” about all sorts of things. Walking this way allows the inner man, the soul, if you will, a vehicle to ride to a spiritual encounter. And God shows up! The Lord begins to speak. He leads the thoughts by discarding the trite ones and developing the deep ones. Jesus becomes real, as He uses His humankind understanding to reach even me! This IS transformative! This IS awesome!