Infectious disease director Michael Osterhold said in the middle of the pandemic: “Every morning, I scrape five inches of mud off my crystal ball. Any effort to predict a future course beyond 30 days relies on pixie dust for its basis.”
I find this statement both exhilarating and horrifying these past years. I am a planner, and I like to know what lies ahead. The allure of certainty is seductive and can be distracting at certain junctures.. Enter the experience of meditative walking: Walking is truly an exercise in befriending uncertainty. Sometimes we choose a path, and sometimes we settle on a path. Either way, the true work is to appreciate not only what lies ahead but also what exists underfoot.
Thich Naht Hanh popularized the concept of walking meditations, and has so much wisdom about tending to the body and mind as one walks. He says:
Take my hand. We will walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere. Walk peacefully. Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk. Our walk is a happiness walk.
Of course, a path does not always feel “happy.” In walking an ancient pilgrimage route in Spain, The Camino de Santiago, I was grieving a deep loss. Climbing up at the close of one day to the monastery at Roncesvalles, I was tired and angry. I wanted to eat, and then cover my head with a sheet. Instead I was greeted by an exuberant monk who forcefully cajoled us to stay for a blessing.. As he sprinkled holy water over us with a pine branch and intoned Spanish liturgy, I thought about all the steps upward I had taken to this place. About how I did not necessarily choose to be in this place of grief, and yet here I landed. Suddenly though, as I lifted my face to the sprinkles of water, it felt right to be at the top of the Pyrenees Mountains in this place and in this time. The past, present, and future felt synchronized and embodied. Roncesvalles became a turning point, a healing place, a refuge.
Come walk with us at Way Opening Workshops this summer.