the evening stroll

I used to run. Well– jog– though that word went out with the 80s. But pounding the pavement has been tough on my joints, and at some point in the pandemic, I shifted to walking. It’s getting colder. Darker. More than ever, we need to get outside. But my morning exercise walk differs from a social stroll.

During that day’s cool evening breeze, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden…. Genesis 3:8a (CEB)

Many cultures cultivate a tradition of the evening stroll. Italians have La Passeggiata, walking after work (or weekend naps) around the central square. It is a time to socialize, to see and be seen. Stretching before dinner, perhaps catching the last of the light, building neighborhood relationships. 

When I attempted to organize the NCF contact list by location- a challenge for someone who relies on Google maps to navigate Urbana- I noticed neighborhood groupings. What if we were more intentionally local? The pandemic has grounded us. We use our cars less- working, eating, exercising at home. Many of us live within walking distance of each other, not far from favorite parks. 

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year. I’ve never been a “New Year’s resolution” type of person, but I wonder about embarking on new practices at Advent. As we wait and prepare, how might we embrace John the Baptist’s message? Change our hearts and lives to welcome the kingdom into our minds, bodies, and communities. What if we became more like God by adopting the evening walk in the garden, seeking conversation and companionship?

I realize we each have limitations; our health, level of confinement, and neighborhood situations differ. But rather than focusing on the barriers- why this won’t work for us- perhaps we can embrace the spirit of the practice. Think creatively how we might incorporate a new habit into our lives. Where is our garden? Who needs us to search for them at sunset?

New habits are hard to form. It helps to have a friend. Knowing that they are waiting for you, or that they need us to seek them out, like the Lord God looking for the first humans. And while I am reluctant to commit, I know that an everyday practice has a better chance of happening than intermittent scheduling. So many things interfere with good intentions. It seems easier to start tomorrow than today. 

I set my alarm for 5:45pm. It will be dark. It will be cold. But as the Norwegians say, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” (Reminding us that the Lord showed love for Adam and Eve by sewing them the first clothes. Maybe so they could resume their walks together.) If you embrace the evening stroll, perhaps you’ll share your story so we can connect. Heads up, NCFers on Park in Champaign, I’ll be walking your street. 
“The Work of Heralds”
12/6 Order of Service

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