Slow and Steady by Rev. Charlie Dupree

James Martin (Jesuit priest and writer) reminds us that holiness is all about the slow and steady movement toward God.

June (not her real name) wasn’t able to move fast. Her steps were careful. The tiniest edge or the slightest incline could trip her up.

“The Body of Christ. The Bread of Heaven.” I would say as I put the wafer in her hand. Then, she made her way back to her pew.

For eleven years, I watched as she moved toward communion each Sunday morning. Internally, I bit my nails, but I also knew this was her journey to make and I couldn’t stop her. We/I made it perfectly clear to June that she didn’t have to come to the rail. She knew we could bring it to her. But she wanted to make that journey to the altar. She wanted to make her movement toward God.

I think about June’s steps – slow, steady, and careful. I admire that she never rushed. She would go at her own speed, and I would welcome her whenever she arrived. Or, better put, God would welcome her whenever she arrived.

Being careful. Not getting rushed. Not getting pulled in or pushed out. Being mindful of our tempo, our approach, and our direction . . . isn’t this a huge part of our lives right now? June reminds me of the spiritual discipline of watching our steps. “One foot in front of the other,” as a parishioner recently told me.

In the tradition of meditation, there’s a thing called “walking meditation.” It calls us to move with intention, steadiness, and care. We leave one foot in place until the other foot has done its job. To an action that is usually so speedy and unthoughtful, we add a layer of thought:

Lift, move, place.
Lift, move, place.
Lift, move, place.

Even the words slow us down.

Walking meditation does not call us to go anywhere fast, but we gain loads in slowing down the mind and focusing on the movement of life. As the rhythms of September and October kick into full swing – meetings, soccer games, homework, and the constant layer of a pandemic – I pray you’re watching your steps. No need to count them, just think about where you’re going and the care and support you need to get to the altar – whatever the “altar” may look like for you.

June made it to her altar-rail in her own time. And the church was there to receive her outstretched hands and beautiful heart.

Take care of yourselves, St. Paul’s. We all move at different speeds and, together, we move toward the presence of Christ who bids us come near. With steps that are shaky and steps that are sure, we are called into the nearer presence of God – the One who calls us to love each other, our planet, and ourselves.

See you in church,