I spend a lot of time in the car. I am usually in a hurry to complete my commute so that I can get to the tasks on my agenda for the day. I recently chose to walk to a meeting rather than drive. I figured the choice would take me about 15 minutes longer (give or take with parking).
Moving through downtown on foot was really enjoyable. It was a sunny day, and pleasant to walk with just a light jacket. I greeted fellow pedestrians and noticed the surprise on their faces as they were momentarily startled from their own thoughts, muttering quick hellos in return. Somehow, whether driving our cars or walking down the street, many of us have been lured into fast-paced, silent, siloed commutes where our focus becomes the destination and not the experience along the way.
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This experience of encountering nature, people and the city unfolding before me has led me to reflect on Jesus and the stories we have from the Gospel of his travel with his disciples from place to place. He used the time on the road with his disciples to talk with them, to challenge them and to prepare them for the things that were to come. Their time on the road was not lost in the distraction of merely getting to the destination; the commute was filled with discussion, learning and perhaps time for comfortable, communal silence as they pondered the depths of their hearts amid the long, dusty miles of road. The road is also a place for questions and discovering new insights.
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It is rare that we take time to not just walk but to slow our pace and allow ourselves to become aware of the Spirit at work in our lives — when a walk becomes a gateway to prayer that soothes our souls and refocuses our vision. To choose to slow down rather than speed by we encounter nature, we look people in the eye rather than see a blur of humanity at 25 miles an hour. Walking is a contemplative practice.
Discernment requires reducing your mental speed and paying attention. It is a time when we are called into a disruption of routine. God calls us to focus on the right now of the journey. We are invited to slow down, to connect and examine the experiences on the road and discover the wisdom on the way.
What could happen if you choose to slow down this week?
*Do you know someone experiencing discernment of religious life? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.