If the lockdowns have not fired your walking instincts, you need a pep talk. Walking is associated with improved mental and physical well-being (Wati, p.37).
During my last birthday, I chose to take a spiritual walk along the village crow’s path. For the entire 20 kilometers (12 miles), the spiritual connection was as effective as it was humbling.
The walking route runs through the motorists on the highway, roadside vendors, store owners, motorbike taxis, farmers in their gardens, sex workers on the prowl, and blue color workers and artisans working or walking to and from work. I probably missed the white color type, but the most profound encounter was with myself.
My tendency to secretly pass judgment on others and exclude myself in the judgments was, as I came to discover, striking.
To the highway motorist – especially those who drove black smoke billowing engines – I passed a judgment on their carbon footprint; to the roadside vendors sitting beside the polluted roads, they should mind their health; to the store owners, it was those polythene packaging bags they released to the environment.
To the farmers, it was the effects of their pesticides on the environment; to the sex workers, it was their morals; and to the artisans and blue color workers, it was the sustainability of their work model. The fact that I did not encounter the white color worker saved them from my judgment. However, what about myself?
To begin with, my athletic shoe, a Nike Air, had a plastic component in the sole. That aside, as a Pentecostal Christian, the walking provided an opportunity to wrestle with my spirituality.
What about the hypocrisy of my transactional relationship with God? It occurred to me, for example, that I had been offering God prayers as a bribe to get his blessings. I had been reading the bible in search of the verse(s) that promised me what I wanted to hear. The way I pick my friends and enemies gives them no chance to appeal.
The walk, on this day of my birth, eventually took the ‘what if’ form. What if the motorists choose to ride efficient machines despite the inconvenience? What if the roadside vendor puts on protective gear against dust?
What if the store owners adopt environmentally friendly packaging? What if farmers adopt organic farming? What if sex workers chose house making? What if artisans joined and took advantage of business information systems for wider markets?
What if I chose to offer my prayers to express my love for God despite the expected blessings? What if I read the bible to know and adopt God’s character? What if I allow people into my circle unconditionally?