Still steps

Still steps

To walk is to journey. To walk is to chart the life you seek to live. Footfall after footfall, steadily towards the moment where you turn around and walk back the way you came. Every culture has the metaphor of the pilgrimage running through its fabric and in this world we live in today, it is no different. To  walk is to rehearse a life informed by spirit, nature, the very essence of our souls. And to walk in nature is one of the most essential actions we can take as we step the pilgrimage of life.

Walking in nature is an act of mindfulness. The steady rhythm of the heart matches each step you take. A sense of unison is created that allows the heart and mind to inform one another in new ways. The space around you becomes the space in your head, the waving pathway the path of your heart.

Walking is essential to awareness. Walking in nature is the way we come to understand our deeper world, to garner a sense of the quality of our lives and to connect deeply with the underlying nature of life in all its glory. When we walk regularly we embrace a practice that leads to clarity. What cannot be solved by the ruminations of the mind can be handed with grace to the seasons. Walking stills our racing thoughts and allows them to return to the vast oceans of our interiors, creating a space for new ideas to crescendo from the depths of our subconscious.

The steady rhythm of the heart matches each step you take. Image: Christopher Burns on Unsplash

To walk is to allow the senses time to breathe. We do not need to race, we do not need to arrive. We simply need to companion the tall trunks of grey ghost that mark our way and let a new compass guide our feet. We need for nothing when we experience a fullness of the soul that transcends the glorified needs of a modern world.

Walking has saved me so many times I feel her as my closest friend. She is a balm for hurt, a rest from difficulty, a blessing and an elixir of truth. Through the seasons, my feet leave soft shadows, first in dust, then fallen leaf, then snow that melts into the small fronds of green life reaching for the spring sun. In this constant change I am witness to all of existence, and my place in the world is as simple as my hand.

When I walk with my friend Linda something vast opens up between us, an energy that does not feel present in other ways we share time. Our creative spirits seem to expand and mingle among the trees and ferns, and we feed from nature and each other with a vigour that can only be described as joyful and intense. Our friendship is deepened with each walk we take, our silences more profound, our support of one another’s creative pursuits, and beauty as women, a direct expression of our encounters together. A walk with Linda is a creative tonic: our ideas blossom and we step away at the end with new visions and projects. We have walked for years – through all of life’s ebbs and flows; through miscarriages; through pregnancies and through children; through change and challenge; and through love and loss. When I miss her presence in my life, I can go to the trees and hear them whisper her name. My loved ones all exist as trees. We all carry the forest deep within our flesh and stand together with the inherent and random beauty of rocks and trees in harmonious discord. Symbiotic, complementary, complete.

To walk is to allow the senses time to breathe. Image: Sam Girvan

A walking union with nature embraces stillness and tiny steps, clear vision and an ability to peer beyond the surface or ordinary things. Without a sign-posted destination we are free to be wherever we are, free to survey and notice what is important and let the voice of the heart rise above the din of life. Birdsong becomes windsong becomes my song.

We walk out in a direction to which we feel led, but invariably we return to the moment we left behind – richer for the experience and elevated in some way so that life takes on the quality of a sacred spiral. You gather the fruits of your being along the way and share your bounty with those who walk alongside you.

This article was originally published on and is republished here with permission.

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