Admirers of nature, like Henry David Thoreau, touch on the value of walking to strengthen the body, mind, and soul. How often have we heard an older person say that they enjoy their daily “constitutional” – a habit of walking the neighborhood or some other set path. Current exercise gurus tout the importance of walking as a way to exercise every muscle of the body.
The spiritual practice of walking has been part of religious tradition for centuries. Meditative walking is as much a part of spiritual practice as sitting meditation. Meditative walking involves mindful attention to each step taken, to the in and out of one’s breath. It is done slowly and with no particular destination in mind. In other words, Renee Miller says, “it is walking in order to walk. It is the reason for the practice and the end of the practice. The time spent in the middle is time of union with the Divine.” (Strength for the Journey, 114)
The centuries old practice of the Way of the Cross (or as some call it, the Stations of the Cross), is a way of combining the spiritual practice of walking with a conscious meditation on the passion and death of Jesus.
As we make the journey along the Way of the Cross, we must first acknowledge that this devotion is first and foremost prayer. It isn’t an intellectual exercise. Rather, we must see it in the context of our relationship with God. As we read through the text of each of the stations and look at the artistic renderings, we discover an invitation to enter into a gifted faith experience of who Jesus is for all humanity. It beckons us open our hearts to be touched and leads us to express our response in prayer.
Walking the walk slowly and deliberately enabling us to remember is that this is an imaginative exercise. Its purpose is not a historical examination of “what really happened” on that day in history but about something far much more profound. It is an opportunity to use this long standing Christian practice to let Jesus touch our hearts deeply by showing us the depth of his love. The context is the historical fact that he was made to carry the instrument of his death, from the place where he was condemned to die, to Calvary where he died, and that he was taken down and laid in a tomb. By this we begin to realize that Jesus wants to use any means available to move our hearts to know his love personally and deeply. By moving deliberately along “the way” we can get caught up in the mystery of God’s love as we imaginatively visualize the “meaning” of Christ’s passion and death.
The point of this exercise is to lead us into gratitude. It will also lead us into a sense of solidarity with all our brothers and sisters. In our busy, high tech lives we can too easily get out of touch with the sufferings of real people in our world. By using our bodies as well as our minds as we journey with Jesus in the Stations, we may only begin to imagine the experience of those who are tortured, unjustly accused or victimized, sitting on death row, carrying impossible burdens, facing terminal illnesses, or simply fatigued with life as was Jesus in his last hours.
Each Friday in Lent, St. Luke’s Church is open for individuals, families, and groups to make this prayer walk. Meditation aids are provided. The scheduled time is Friday evening at 7 PM, however, one can make the journey at anytime on any day – and it doesn’t have to be in church. This Lent, as we all seek to Journey Deeper, let’s use our time earnestly to begin to “walk the talk” of our discipleship.
Source: Rector’s Blog