This morning I realized my walks focus on what I see. Pansies newly planted in front step pots, tulips, the occasional dead Christmas wreath on a front door (g-r-r-r-r!), a For Sale sign where there wasn't one a few days ago, dogs and their owners, children's toys scattered on the sidewalk, a rabbit or two or three, and an area of bluebells tumbling down a steep lawn. A feast for the eyes in my urban neighborhood.
Along with all there is to see, sounds swirl around me, too. Cars, buses, of course, but also the birds in springtime conversations, a dog barking from inside a house as I pass by, clusters of children chattering as they walk to school, and chapel bells on the University of St Thomas campus.
And a voice within. The voice I sometimes recognize as the Divine breaking through all the stimulation around me.
This morning I thought about the Gospel story of two of the disciples walking to Emmaus. Jesus joined them, but they didn't recognize him. The text says "their eyes were kept from recognizing him." I suspect their ears were closed, too. What would have happened if the disciples entered this time as a walking meditation? Would their eyes and ears opened to the wonders around them? Would they have "heard" Jesus and recognized the movement of the divine in their hearts?
The disciples on the road to Emmaus told the "stranger" the gossip of the day, chitter-chattering along the way, and Jesus, still unknown to them, offered them new insights. Still, they did not hear.
As I walked, feeling the uneven sidewalk beneath my feet, I paid attention to my breath, to the in and out of my breath. Gradually, I felt unidentified thoughts release their hold on me, leaving space for a quiet voice. A voice just waiting for some time with me.
I was surprised by the question that rose in my heart, and I admit I attempted to drop it into a hedge as I passed by, but the voice was persistent. "Hear me. Recognize me. Be with me."
When I arrived home, I knew I had been on an unexpected journey-one that is just beginning, perhaps, and one that has an unknown destination, and one that will require many more steps. Who knew? I thought I was just going for a walk.
Do you practice walking meditation? Does your inner voice, the voice of the Divine, go with you? I would love to know.
The Long Road Turns to Joy, A Guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh