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Walking at God's Speed

Do you know how fast you are going? We drove to Canada last week-end. After a long wait to get across the border we found ourselves on a highway and realized we needed to travel at a speed measured in kilometers, not miles. Once we did the math and changed the settings on our speedometer, we realized that the speed limit was much slower than the pace we were driving.

Isn’t that often the case? We feel like we should be going faster or doing more? Or, we are thinking about things or going about things in a way that’s not helpful.

A few years ago, Mark Buchanan wrote about walking as a spiritual practice.* Walking is not always easy. Age, illness, an injury, or our circumstances may make it harder to walk or find our way. I remember sitting with my grandmother when she was getting on in years. Sometimes she would tell me that her bones hurt. It may be hard to walk when your bones hurt. If you think about it though, everyone walks, even if it’s only from your bed to a chair or from the table to the fridge. Evan Esar says, “Walking isn’t a lost art, one must, by some means, get to the garage.”

Most of us walk without thinking. We walk down the stairs or down the hall to do laundry. We walk the dog. We may take a stroll to enjoy nature. We may be logging steps. We may walk to think. An average pace for walking is about three miles an hour. This of course varies with age and the kind of walking you are doing. Rebecca Solnit suggests that three miles an hour is also about the speed of thought. Perhaps it is also the speed of our souls.

There is a lot to be gained from the practice of walking. I discovered this first hand in our recent travels. We explored one large city by car. They did not have an easy way to get around on foot. There were no sidewalks or a transit system to help you get around. It made it hard to really explore things. It was actually a little stressful as wherever you went, you needed to find a car and a driver. We were often stuck in traffic. We heard the sound of horns honking and had limited opportunities to see much beyond the mass of vehicles around us.

By contrast, we visited another smaller city with an excellent public transportation system. It was easy to get around and the best way to explore the city was on foot. You could see, hear, smell and feel things firsthand. I liked the feel of the uneven, well worn cobblestones underfoot in the Old Town. You could feel the natural landscape as we walked up steep hills. You could feel a slight breeze as you walked by the lake. There was something about going at 3 or 4 miles an hour that made all the difference. There was a sense of peace and joy about it.

In his book, Three Mile An Hour God, Kosuke Koyama writes: “God walks slowly because he is love. If he is not love he would move much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is slow and yet it is lord over all the other speeds since it is the speed of love. It goes on in the depths of our life whether we notice it or not, whether we are currently hit by a storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.”

Our walking can be a way of living with and knowing God. In scripture we learn that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day. We learn that Enoch and Noah walked with God and that their walking with God was the way they lived. To walk with God was to strive to be holy, as God was holy. The prophet Micah asks the question: “What does God require of you?” The answer - “to walk humbly with God.” Later Paul tells us to “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph 5:1-2). To follow Jesus is to walk with him at God speed. With God, there is hope and love and joy.

So wherever you find yourself today - whether you are feeling good or if your bones hurt - be aware of your pace as you walk. Are you going with God at God’s speed? Are you keeping pace with the speed of your soul? Are you able to see and hear and experience all that God has prepared for you today?


*God Walk: Moving at the Speed of Your Soul, Mark Buchanan.

**Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit


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