Cultivating a spiritual life—a life marked by prayer, by noticing and interacting with God in the world, by a calm and peaceful and loving spirit—does not happen easily. Nor is it contained only Sundays and select church events. It comes from regular discipline and intentionality, finding our own thin places every day for God to break through the busyness of our lives and speak to our souls.
There are common ingredients that help all of us to be more mindful of God, yet we all have unique ways that open our souls to God at work. I have become increasingly aware of how intentional I need to be living in an urban environment. My soul responds strongly to nature, to mountains and forests and star-filled nights…and cities have few of these. My soul responds easily to silence and solitude, yet this is also hard to find in London.
It is out of our own need for intentional spiritual mindfulness, beyond Sunday worship and “quiet times”, that we want to offer this new series, Everyday Spirituality. The posts provide space for us to reflect on the ways that we make space to regularly connect with the Spirit, often in the mundane routines of life. Maybe these same ways will be meaningful to you, or maybe they will prompt you to recognise your own thin places. We’d love to hear from you either way.
Walking. Without question, my favourite method of transportation is using my own two feet. It’s good for my soul, it’s good for my mind, and it’s good for my body. Staying relatively fit doesn’t happen naturally! If I can get somewhere in an hour, I would rather walk than hop on the bus or tube.
It is an inefficient means of travel, especially in a busy city with so many transportation options available, but this inefficiency is exactly what makes walking meaningful. Even in relationally-focused ministry, too often I get caught up in my schedule and my to-do list, controlled by a stressful sense of urgency. The simplicity of walking, without spending money or using fossil fuel or being rushed or multi-tasking, helps me refocus on what is important.
When I choose to walk, I’m choosing to carve out space where I stop the busyness. I can’t easily or safely send email while I’m walking, and I dislike talking on the phone while out and about. I’m choosing to be slow and unproductive, even if only for a few minutes.
This unbusyness helps me to be more aware of myself. It offers time to think, to reflect on my day and week, to process my struggles and celebrate my victories. It’s time to mentally rest, to converse with God, and to practice *being* instead of *doing*.
The unbusyness of walking helps me to be more aware of the world around me. When I stop focusing on the things in my own little world, I’m better able to see others. When I walk, I see people and can pay attention to them—if I know them, we can talk; if I don’t, then I can appreciate them as people made and loved by God. Walking allows me space to recognise what’s changing in my community, who is having a good day or a bad day, or little sparks of the holy and beauty around me that I would normally miss.
Seeing…Oh, there are our neighbours heading off to school!
Noticing…It rained last night. The reflections in these puddles are amazing.
Noticing…Look how many snails are out after the rain! Their shells are so cool. Hope they don’t get squished…
Reflecting…I’m feeling a bit anxious today. Where is that coming from?
Appreciating…These two elder ladies laughing and teasing each other is great. They’ve probably been friends for decades, and it’s beautiful.
Reflecting…It was great to watch a film with Liz last night, we haven’t hung out in awhile. And Pixar is great. Yay Pixar.
Appreciating…That eight-year-old kid just gave some change to the panhandler by Tesco. May he stay generous and caring as he grows up.
Choosing to walk requires me to be patient, needs me to allow more time for travelling, and is a drag if I’m tired or feeling too rushed to walk very far. But the discipline of using my feet is a powerful way through which God leads me into a posture of prayer and spiritual awareness, and is well worth my time.