This morning, I walked with a friend along Stony Run. The air was cool, some lilacs wafted their scent our way, and birds of different sizes and temperaments swooped and chirped and called as we talked and walked.
Solvitur ambulando — “It is solved by walking” (attributed to Greek philosopher Diogenes as well as to St. Augustine) – are words that hung on the door of another friend of mine, years ago. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”
I don’t know about you, but the more tours around the sun I make, the more I appreciate the wisdom, power and truth of solvitur ambulando: It is solved by walking. Whatever feels burdensome, whatever might be weighing heavily on my heart, whatever thoughts might swirl and twirl, whatever fogginess of mind might have settled into the crevices of my being …
… Solvitur ambulando … It is solved by walking …
During this abundance of springtime, we at Redeemer have been navigating our way through much loss and grief. We are grieving and praying, burying and funeral planning, it feels, right and left. And we are not alone. This weekend, there are two homegoing services with longtime connections to BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development). In my own Filipino-American community here in Baltimore, several “Titas” and “Titos” have made their pilgrimage Home just this past month. And it was a year ago today that my mama surrendered her fierce and feisty and beautiful spirit, accompanied by a giant heart carved in the sand on a beach across the ocean, in Spain, to communicate the truth and awesome mystery that Love Endures.
As we heard a couple of weeks ago in our church services, two friends were walking and talking along a road to a town called Emmaus, a long, long time ago. As they walked, they gave voice to their grief, anxiety and angst over the loss they and their community were navigating, following the gruesome public execution of their beloved leader and teacher. It was as they were walking and talking that the Risen One (… whom death can not hold … whose invitation is to lie down in green pastures, by still waters … who revives our souls … ) was made Present in their midst.
My own experience of walking is that it is life-giving because it gets my blood circulating, and air flowing in and through my lungs. Because it leads me from the isolation of my own private thoughts and into communion with What Is. Because it literally gets me up and moving, out of a place of stagnation and “being stuck”; it seldom leaves me in the same “interior place” as when and where I started.
And in this way, walking is like grace. In the words of writer Annie Lamott: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
So I will end with a story about Grace, my daughter, who last night was walking to a meeting on her college campus, as she listened in on a prayer service in honor of my mom being held on Zoom. As she was walking and listening, she came upon a giant, magnificent bird, standing in the grass. It was so majestic and grand that it immediately caught her attention and drew her closer. After some further research online, she identified the bird to be some kind of heron, which symbolizes renewal and rebirth. It is also associated with elegance, nobility and style – words which aptly describe my mother. She texted a photograph of the bird, and what she had learned about it, to me, my dad and my sister, after the prayer service was over. For me, her texts were a source of comfort and reassurance, of the mystery of grace … the mystery of Abundant Life… the mystery that, indeed, Love Endures …
So if you can and are able, today or tonight or sometime this week, I invite you to go for a walk and see where your walking leads you.