Friday, January 11, 2013

on walking.

{photo by Caroline Fontenot}

My new year's resolution was to walk or jog a mile every day until my birthday, and I know we're only 11 days in, so this is probably a little premature, but it's going so well. The intention behind the goal was for my physical health, to get me out of the house, doing something active. I planned to begin the month walking, then eventually build up to jogging. 

It's early in the month, so it's difficult to tell, but I kind of like just walking. And I'm not saying that to get out of exercise, not saying that to avoid pushing myself to do more and be more. I'm saying it because I don't know the last time I faced silence. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed nature without outside noises serving as distractions. When I walk, I breathe a little slower. I may not burn very many calories or build a ton of muscle, but I think. I pray. I listen to the birds. I feel the rain on my face. I look at the colors. I say hello to neighbors. I glance inside lighted windows and observe progress on remodeled homes. 

Basically, I pay attention. 

I think maybe I'll miss these things if I start to jog. Of course, I could be completely wrong. It's been a while since I last jogged, so who knows how much attention I really pay when my pace is a little faster and I run out of breath more quickly. But walking feels more... intentional.

Each morning, those 20 minutes kind of help me decompress from the day before. They help center me for the day ahead. I use a pedometer to keep track of my steps, to make sure I'm really walking a mile, but mostly, I just walk.

This love affair with my new morning ritual began slowly. January 1 felt no different than the day before, and I was irritable over trying to find my headphones in the post-Christmas disaster area that is our house. (Said headphones are still missing in action.) I had to walk in silence, and it felt... weird. Then mid-walk on January 2, the heavens opened, and a misty, cold rain began to steadily fall, and all I could do was stand there and laugh. I had no umbrella, no raincoat, just an old Georgetown sweatshirt and five-tenths of a mile to go. I arrived home soaking wet, but happy. And January 3? It rained too. But I had fun. I liked whispering prayers and listening to nature. And the headphones? I don't miss them. 

My life moves at such a fast pace. Maybe the reason I love walking is because it's one of the few things I do that's slow. 

Last week, I read a Relevant magazine article about how to slow down in 2013. Number one on the list? Go for a walk. The author said the act of walking had become spiritual for him, and I get that. Even when I'm not thoughtfully praying (which I find myself doing a lot on my walks), I feel like God is walking beside me, like these moments are our time to start the day right, to check out what He's got going on, what He's been up to in my neighborhood. 

I've got a while to go before walking becomes a habit, becomes something I jump out of bed to do every morning. But I'm tired of believing that everything I do outside of work is supposed to be fun all the time. It's not fun to get up earlier every morning, not fun to freeze outside in the gloomy morning weather. But things worth doing don't always have to be fun. Maybe walking is a little bit of work. But the reward, I'm discovering, is great. 

We sing this old hymn at church sometimes, a song about meeting Him in the garden, and how He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And I think He does that all the time, even in the loud places, even in the places where you don't think He could possibly be. But I admit: Outside, without headphones, in the morning before things are too bright, I hear Him a little bit better, and I think He might like that best.


Faith said...

Wow, Annie. This is beautiful. Keep on walking, and keep on writing.

Elizabeth said...

Wonderfully written and inspiring.

Sabrina said...

Beautiful song:) Keep loving those walks, they can be amazing.

Melanie said...

i love this. it makes me want to go for a walk right now! unfortunately... it's raining...

Rachel Reeves said...

I've always loved that hymn.
....And He walks with me.....and He talks with me....

It requires time and time is something we all have. Good for you for taking it.

Love you A and love your new blog look.

Ashley said...

Love that hymn!