Today's post is from my friend, Daniel K. MacDonald the curate at St. Anne's in the Field's Episcopal Church in Lincoln, MA. Religion is not normally a part of this blog, but I asked Daniel if I could share his essay because it is rich with images of walking, both literal and metaphorical. The first time I read it, I appreciated the way it made me look at stories I'd heard a hundred times, through a new lens. Whether you're religious, spiritual or agnostic, I think there's something in here for you.
Jesus walked. I mean, Jesus walked a lot. Sure, he took an occasional boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, and of course, he rode on a donkey during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem but mostly, almost exclusively, he walked. Walking from one town to another, from one region to the next. That was the life of the itinerant prophet, the traveling teacher, the marginal 1st century Jew: walking.
But also, talking. When Jesus walked, he attracted a crowd, and a dialogue ensued. Jesus almost always walked with others. Picture Jesus walking around Judea in the midst of a throng of curious followers: this is a defining image of the New Testament. So many Gospel stories consist of Jesus teaching or healing after arriving - that is, having walked - to a new place. Sometimes Jesus' fellow walkers were few in number. In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus takes a mere three - Peter, and James and John - up the mountain. But in other places, the Gospels describe crowds beyond number, as when Jesus had to get into a boat to teach, because his listeners were so many.
Whether few or many in number, walking with others invites conversation, as much today as it did for Jesus and his followers. Something about walking opens us up to those with whom we are traveling. Yet walking in company is also a space for silence and private reflection, a time to simply take in one's surroundings, God's good creation.
On October 20th, 11 youth and 6 adults from St. Anne's walked together for 7 kilometers through crisp fall air and beneath many a bejewelled oak, raising money for hunger relief through the Concord Crop Walk. The weather was glorious, but more importantly, we used the shared experience of going somewhere together to open ourselves up to our teammates who were walking the way with us. We walked and talked and laughed and shared and questioned, much as the first followers of Jesus must have done in the Judean countryside all those centuries ago. Walking invites openness, and 7 kilometers after we began, with the finish line in sight, we all knew each other better than we had at the beginning.
We are happy to report that St. Anne's raised $1,655 for the Concord Crop Walk. Thank you to everyone who donated monet for this important effort. If you did not support the Crop Walk, we still welcome your contribution.
But beyond the Crop Walk, God is inviting us on another walk. Come walk this year with the people of St. Anne's to go deeper in faith, deeper in the life of our growing, thriving parish. Actual walking can be a great spiritual resource, as we see from Jesus in the Gospels. But we can walk spiritually, too, as a community of faith that is going somewhere. Opportunities for spiritual growth and community engagement abound at our church this year. So come, join the good people at St. Anne's as we follow Jesus, wherever he is walking next.