Sunday morning I challenged my congregation to do a few things. I suggested they should pray more if they aren’t already praying regularly. I also suggested that they could use the words of the Psalms as their prayer or at least to frame their prayer. Those, while perhaps new for me, are pretty standard things for a pastor to suggest to his congregation. The other thing I added was a challenge to go for a walk.
Walking is good exercise, better for the environment than driving, etc. but walking is a chance to get away from the worries of our life. Walking can be a profound time of closeness to God.
I have little control over who will follow my advice, but the biggest question isn’t will anyone else do what I say, the greatest question to me is will I do what I say.
So, tonight, I went for a walk. The distance and the destination aren’t terribly relevant. I walked for about half an hour, and it wasn’t long before my mind started cycling through the various pertinent issues of my life. But rather than arrive at some sort of epiphany, I simply replayed conversations in my mind. If anything I found myself re-convincing myself of the things I had already said. This reminded me of another spiritual quest.
My memory can’t give me any new information, so what is the point of reflecting on it?
I’m likely not the only one who feels this way, but when I am in a conversation/argument where the same things are being said over and over again and there doesn’t seem to be any progress, I would rather not be there. I would rather leave. More than once I have left a conversation like that to go for a walk. When I go for a walk though, I keep hearing the argument played out. I hear again and again what was said to me, and repeat in my mind the words that I said back. I reiterate why I was write to say those words. But I cannot leave that conversation. Not only am I reminded of my words, but I am reminded of the ineffectiveness of them. When I go for a walk after a stressful conversation, I am putting myself in the shoes of my opponent. I hear my own words over and over again. I start to realize that they were not good enough, and I start to understand that I need to either say different words or say my words differently.
So, while I haven’t gotten any new information, the parts of memory have assembled themselves and I am farther ahead than when I left.