A Walk with the Lord
"They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. The Lord God called to the man and said to him 'Where are you?'"
Genesis 4: 8-9
Adam and Eve hid themselves from God, but we can accept His invitation to walk with Him. A walking meditation helps us to be fully present in all the experiences of the walk while also giving all glory to God. Thus it seems very contemplative as it is a mindful attention on enjoying God's gift of the present moment - the eternal now - through his gifts of our body, our bodily senses and His creation and giving thanks for all these.
I am conscious that some reading this may have an impairment of the senses or be unable to walk. If so, maybe you can find a way of adapting this to your own experience.
This is my interpretation of the method given to me. But prayer is an individual thing so adapt it to your own requirements as the Spirit leads. I have dealt in some detail with one of the senses, and just outlined the rest as the basic principle is the same for each.
Decide on the length of your prayer walk. For example a walk devoting 5 minutes to each of the senses will be around 30 minutes.
Decide on the location. It needs to offer plenty of variety. Personally I prefer the countryside, but a city walk could work equally well. Although the method I was taught involves giving actual voice to thanks at intervals. These days this might pass without notice in a city.
As you begin take a deep breath, think of yourself breathing in the breath of God, as Jesus breathed on His disciples and said ‘My peace be with you’. Give thanks for the air we breathe and how God sustains us with it. Ask God to accompany you on your walk.
Then focus on each of the senses in turn. Whatever order feels right. Slow down. The idea is not to get from A to B as fast as possible, but to experience each moment through a particular set of sensations in the company of the Lord. You may not travel very far at all in terms of linear distance. If distractions come, notice them and let them go, returning to your focus on the sensory experience.
Sight – let your attention be fully present to your eyes and what you can see, the experience of sight. Try to recapture the delight of a child when s/he sees something for the first time. Noticing colours, movement, texture, shape, size. See the beauty of creation. Slow down or stop to notice detail, a leaf, a flower, a stone, the lichen. Watch the movement of trees in the wind. Marvel at the extraordinary variety. Notice how you react to the different sights. Marvel at the design of our eyes. Reflect on all the gifts your sight has given you – reading, communication, art, whatever your list might be. Reflect on what your sense of sight tells you about God. How does God communicate with you through your eyes. At the end of the allotted time give thanks and praise aloud to God for all that He has given you. Singing a song of praise could be good.
Smell - let your attention be fully present to your nostrils and the smells around you. Take time to explore how things around you smell, maybe smells you haven’t noticed before. Notice how you react to each smell. Marvel, reflect and give thanks.
Hearing - let your attention be fully present to your ears and the noises around you. Listen, notice your reactions to the different noises. Maybe make some different noises, banging stones or sticks together. Marvel, reflect and give thanks.
Touch - let your attention be fully present to your sense of touch. Feel the air around you, the clothes on your skin, your feet on the ground. Touch a variety of things with different textures. Pick them up and hold them. Notice your reactions to the different sensations. Marvel, reflect and give thanks.
Taste – Does the air have a taste? Is it raining? Does the rain taste of anything? Is there something safe to taste on the walk? Perhaps take some fruit to taste on your walk. Notice, marvel, reflect and give thanks.
Finish your walk by giving thanks and praise for the gift of your body, all its senses and for the gift of creation with which to enjoy them.