Weekly Encouragement: “Mulberries and Humility: the Experience of Walking with God”
“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
One day recently, I chose to walk to work. The distance is less than a mile and a half from my home, and it was one of those beautiful spring days with a bit of coolness still in the air. It took about twenty-five minutes. It generated a bit of sweat, especially on the stretch coming uphill from Shockoe Bottom, but on the whole I found it quite rewarding.
I saw many things I would not have noticed had I been driving a car or riding the bus. Dark, ripe mulberries strewn across the sidewalk. The Gothic cathedral-like decorative stone doorways of the Old City Hall. Close-up views of the monuments and flowers in Capitol Square. Crossing fellow walkers and being able to look them in the eye and say “hello.” And what a joy it was to walk over I-95 and look down at its traffic jam without having to be stuck in it.
It also had its less pleasant sides. Noticing the ill-repair of many of our sidewalks and the trash strewn along them. Breathing the fumes of the vehicles speeding past or idling in traffic, their noisy motors drowning out the gentler sounds of the city. Realizing that the “WALK” signal does not protect you from hurried motorists who pay no attention to pedestrian right of way.
Walking not only helps me to see things I might not otherwise have seen, but it also helps me to think things I might not otherwise have thought. I can’t think of much more than driving defensively when I’m behind the wheel of a car and pressed to stay up with traffic. But when I set my own pace, on foot, my mind is free to ponder deeply.
Many people plan walks for exercise or for recreation. Have you thought about using walking as a means of transportation? Perhaps you can’t walk to work from where you live, but what about finding other opportunities to walk instead of stepping into the car? Combine the benefits of exercise and recreation with transportation. I realize that I often ‘have’ the opportunity to walk even when I do not ‘take’ the opportunity to walk.
The prophet Micah (6:8) gives us one of the most succinct summaries of God’s expectations of us: “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Certainly this “walk humbly” is best understood in the large sense of how we conduct our life and our faith. But it can also be understood in a more restricted sense.
Walking allows us to see our city and our neighbors up close, perhaps helping us become more aware of the visible injustices of our society. Walking puts us on common ground with others, literally and figuratively, perhaps helping us become more aware of the opportunities presented to us to carry out acts of personal kindness. Walking can be a humbling activity too, perhaps helping us to become more humble in our relationships with each other, with God, and with God’s creation.
The Rev. Bill Queen