I’m learning to walk again.
Relearning the power of what it means to walk with another. To show up. To connect.
Even in silence. Even in the midst of language barriers.
And discovering how vulnerable you can be in the process.
Recently I was invited to join a group of volunteers who will lead walking meditations at the CAC Conspire conferences. This weekend I’ll be co-leading my first one.
Even though my interest in walking meditation began years ago, I usually practiced it alone. On my own terms. With my heart intact.
Then last spring while attending an “intensive” with fellow Living School students in Albuquerque, I joined a morning walking meditation. We walked silently in pairs. Shoulder to shoulder. Our slow footsteps in sync.
I didn’t know the woman walking beside me, other than that she was from Wales. Not a word had passed between us prior to this walk.
But somehow, during our 45 minutes of slow, mindful stepping, I felt deeply connected to her. I prayed for her, for her needs, for her peace and happiness. And she apparently was praying for me.
Afterwards, we hugged and then she hesitantly said she had something to tell me.
During our walk, she’d had a powerful vision about me. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but she figured I needed to hear it.
Clearly, she felt vulnerable in sharing the message she’d received. As I listened, so did I. She must have noticed my eyes moistening. Caught the tears I tried to swallow.
Although she knew nothing about me, this woman’s words and vision were amazingly right on target. Letting myself become even more vulnerable, I began to share a bit of my story.
Barbara Holmes, an African American theologian, author, teacher, contemplative, and a recent Living School presenter, tells us that there are stories within us. Important stories that we need to share.
“We need to spend more time telling our stories to one another,” Dr. Holmes says.
Her words, and my vulnerability on that morning walk, remind me of the connection that can happen when we walk alongside someone and share our story.
It makes me aware of the tremendous vulnerability of the migrant men and women who share their stories with me and my fellow volunteers. Stories sometimes shared on a late-night walk accompanying a refugee mom and her kids to the Greyhound bus station where they will spend the night before leaving for a very early departure. Stories shared as we accompany a dad and son up the escalator at El Paso airport.
Powerful stories that emerge from within and invite us to pause and to listen.
And sometimes it’s not about talking at all. Sometimes it’s about simply coming together and listening together in stillness.
When we do this, we discover who we are.
“Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone.” Rachel Naomi Remen
Will you walk with me this evening? Take my hand and help alleviate my fear? Share my joy? Feel my suffering? Know my heart?
Whether it’s walking together on a downtown street in El Paso or a dirt path in the bosque (woods), you sometimes discover “The Beloved has passed this way in haste.”
And sometimes you discover that the Beloved is you.