A listening idea ...

In reading through a great book called "The Listening Life" by Adam McHugh

I came across the idea of what McHugh calls "The spiritual discipline of the long walk."

By this he means ... well, exactly like what it sounds.

A long walk,

not for the purpose of exercise,

not with earbuds in,

not fast.

A long, slow, quiet, contemplative, listening walk.

This is what McHugh writes about this idea:

"I want to propose the spiritual discipline of the long walk. It is long because the monologue racing through our heads takes awhile to talk itself out, and it is a walk because moving any faster would make the world blurry, and this is a practice meant to slow us down.

The long walk is about attentiveness, about receiving each moment as a gift and listening to the sermons creation is preaching to us.

The long walk can be practiced anywhere ... the idea behind it is to unplug in order to connect with the Power that surges through the world.

For the first ten minutes ... I am allowing the fog to drift out of my soul, silencing my mind and heart and giving myself over to God's gifts in my immediate surrounding.

Then I begin to notice what I see and hear, no matter how big and loud or small and quiet ...

Then ... I start to pay attention to anything that flashes or sings out at me, something specific that draws me in ...

There is no pressure for our observations to be theological or spiritual; we are simply waking up to the craftsmanship of God's handiwork around us and listening.

If something grabs your attention, carry it in your mind and heart as you walk. Let it preach to you for awhile. Allow it to draw you into dialogue with the One who imagined it and made it.

Let it roll up into gratitude for the beauty, mercy and wisdom he has surrounded us with.

End with 'thank you.'"

I did this this morning. I set off on a walk with no phone, no earbuds, no watch, no pre-selected route, no hurry.

It was so, so lovely.

McHugh was right, it took me about 10-15 minutes for the fog in my brain to clear ...

And then ...

I started to notice the leaves - multi-colored, lightly waving in the breeze, tumbling gently to the ground ...

I noticed the birds, singing quietly as autumn approaches ...

I said hello to a couple neighbors and noticed a skip in my soul from the kindness ...

I thought about my kids and everything they are up to ...

I prayed for friends and colleagues ...

I thought about an upcoming sermon I am working on - (even came up with quite a nice outline in my head) ...

I composed a couple e-mails ...

I thought about how grateful I am for this past summer ...

I picked up some trash and dropped it in garbage pails ...

I smiled at the garbage men out on their weekly rounds ...

I stopped and stared at a hawk circling in the breeze ...

I noticed the blue sky ...

I told God he was pretty darn creative ...

and then in an hour I was home, and as I approached my driveway I said, "thank you."

And it was done.

And my oh my, was that lovely.

I hope to do it again soon.

The discipline of the long walk - a powerful way to quiet your soul and listen to creation as it sings the tune of divinity.

Thanks, Adam McHugh!

Tags: Prayer, Worship, Sabbath Rhythm, Living Gratefully, Celebration, Developing a Rule of Life