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Sunday, 08 August 2021 07:00

3 ways to keep walking

 2021.49.3 WAYS TO KEEP WALKING pack carefully

Now that National Vocations Awareness Week is drawing to a close, it may be helpful to take a minute to think about how God might be calling you to keep walking, that is, to keep journeying with him and asking the big questions about what he is calling you to in your life.

Now I love walking along beaches – the feeling of the sand beneath my feet, the sun on my back, the sound of the waves lapping the shore and the beauty that I am surrounded by refreshes me and brings me to life in a way that is difficult to put into words. I also love walking along bushy paths – the smell of the bush, the palpable silence and the views from the top of a mountain fill me with delight and awe.

Yet what can these wonder-filled experiences of walking teach us about ordinary walking, like the days when we can’t escape to a mountain or the beach and have to settle doe a walk around the streets close to our homes. What can they teach us about bravely walking forward every day of our lives, particularly in regard to discerning our vocation? I think there are three things that we can draw from such experiences.

  • Look up

There would be little point walking along the beautiful beach or mountain path with our head constantly down either focused on our feet or scrolling through emails or social media on our phone. We’d be missing the beauty we were surrounded by. I think this is an analogy for discerning a vocation because it is a call and reminder to look up and notice the things that God wants us to see. Sometimes they are obvious – a beautiful sunset, the hugest tree we have ever seen or the colour of the ocean and the roaring of the waves, but sometimes they are harder to spot – like a rare bird flying through the sky, a delicate shell lying on the sand, or even a sneaky geocache well camouflaged and hidden.

What is it in our journey of discernment that God wants us to see? Is it like a burning bush that can’t be missed that we must respond to, or is it like the gentle breeze that Elijah experienced? Whatever the case, as you walk each day forward in life, ask God for the grace to keep looking up and to draw your attention to the things he wants you to see.

  • Pack Carefully

My sister has done an overnight hike with her husband and 6/7 kids, the youngest of whom is only three at least once. While not with them, I can guarantee they had to pack carefully, making sure they had the essentials and avoiding carrying what was not needed. I have an appreciation for this on a minor level, packing for a full day hike and for long pilgrimage walks during World Youth Day.

While I’m reminded that Jesus told his disciples to take nothing for the journey, I want to reflect briefly on this analogy of considering what we pack and carry with us as we navigate our way through life. I think the most important thing is to make sure we pack the essentials first. This is not necessarily easy, because of some of the things that we want to carry are not necessarily ‘bad’ things, it’s just that they can take the space which makes it more difficult to carry the things we really need. For instance, on a day long hike, I may be tempted to carry chips and Coke to eat when what my body would really need is healthy snacks and water.

It can be hard to pack our bags for each day of our lives, but it is important to consider how we prioritise what we pack. Is prayer and time with God given space, or is our day filled with only work, binging Netflix and busyness? Do we make space for time with others, or are we solely focused on ourselves?

Ask God to help you pack and plan for your day, lovingly teaching you to place priority on things that really matter.

  • Actually Keep Walking

There is no doubt that long walks can be tiring. I am sure we have all experienced doing it with a small child who seems to ask us every ten metres, are we there yet? Sometimes we can be a little the same – impatient, tired and wanting it all to be over. In times in our lives when we feel discouraged and weary, it is so important to keep going, to keep walking. And that’s when looking up and packing carefully really comes to the fore, because these things can help us to persevere when it is hard.

So as you continue to discern beyond this week, take these three things into your life and enjoy the walk knowing Jesus is right by your side.

Mel Edwards