Walking as Meditation

I do not walk for aerobic exercise, though walking as I do for 30 to 40 minutes does get my heart rate up into aerobic range. I don’t walk for the scenery, though some places provide breath taking views. I recall sweet memories walking with my friend and our dogs on the mountain in the spring time.

Mt Arabia. GA 1999Mt Arabia. GA 1999Friend Linda and our dogs, Flea & Diva

Friend Linda and our dogs, Flea & Diva

Back then I walked in our woods for the sheer pleasure of it.  In my travels to Hungary, I walked with my sister and brother. Breathtaking views delighted us. It was a time to recall childhood memories.

The view of the Danube from the Castle, 2000
The view of the Danube from the Castle, 2000

Over the years, walking has changed for me. Nearly every morning while living in Fort Myers Beach, I walked at sunrise along the beach, there, the sound of the waves lapping at the shore always comforted me. Sometimes friends would join me but most of the time, I walked alone.

Sunrise Meditation Walk December 2011
Sunrise Meditation Walk December 2011

Walking has become a meditation for me. My walking philosophy is nothing as grandiose as David Thoreau declares in his essays on Walking

 In the very first sentence he affirms, “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil, — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than

Walking Henry David Thoreaua member of society.”

No grand statements from me. My paths are now in the desert and on sidewalks in my neighborhood, here, I look for wild creatures along my path, I listen for the sounds of birds especially quails, I listen for the sounds of children playing and splashing in their backyard pool behind the fences and walls, families in happy conversations. I feel the breeze whip my hair and delight in the smell of flowers sweeping across my path. Bunny on the path

Although sights and sounds delight my senses, nowadays I walk to nourish my soul. I walk to restore balance to my frazzled confused spirit. Critical voices in my head fade away, heaviness disappears from my heart in the sure knowledge that where ever I am, no matter what path I take, I am not alone, God is with me.

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I love the story of the disciples “walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him. Luke 24:13-35

I often repeat a mantra as I walk. Sometimes a song comes to mind, and I begin signing it to myself.  Recently, this song came to mind as I walked,

I knew it comes from a higher source. Hearing myself sing it, a sense of gratitude fills me with joy.

One step at a time, listening and feeling the rhythm of my foot fall is strangely comforting. Strange because no matter if my mind wondered or troubles re-visited, I am brought back to the present. In that moment once again, everything is perfect.

First sign of the Saguaro blooming
First sign of the Saguaro blooming

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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

One thought on “Walking as Meditation”

  1. One step at a time , Lord, one step at a time. I hear it in my head. Thank you, dear friend, for this post on walking.
    My new goal is to walk to the chapel at Memorial Hospital. It is a few blocks away…..and when I get there I will send you a picture! Blessings to all this day.
    Rev. Judith.

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