Thursday, 12 January 2017

Walking in Winter

‘And O it is delicious, when the day
In winter's loaded garment keenly blows
And turns her back on sudden falling snows,
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of evergreen that scarce let through
A single feather of the driving storm’

Extract from ‘Winter Walk’ by John Clare

Have you noticed that there are different ways of walking? There are walks in solitude, when we seem to see and hear the world clearer. There are chatty walks – those slovenly gossipy ones with friends. There are walks with little ones, pushing babies along and seeing the world through their tiny, wide eyes again.

Despite the variation, ironically, what makes walking so therapeutic is its steadiness. The repeated steps, are like our own heartbeat, bonding us with the land we walk on. This beat counteracts the chatter in our minds that we might have set out with. Countless artists have packed up their troubles and taken them out with them. Julia Cameron wisely asserts that ‘when we walk out, the sorting process begins’. Our problems and dilemmas ‘keep us company as we walk’ and we can meditate upon them. Sometimes, a solution can be found by the time we reach our destination. Other times, we can gain some distance, clarity or perspective on them.

With a clearer mind, we can get closer to where we are or maybe it’s the other way round – our surroundings give us that much sought after clearer mind. We can notice the poetry in the little things. Whether we’re in the middle of a bustling city or deep in the forest we can find that joy. No wonder, then, that walking is so associated with spiritual enlightenment. Each and every walk can become a pilgrimage, a devotion and exploration to the simple beauty in life. Each and every walk can be an exercise in mindful gratitude.

This is why I love walking in winter. I notice the tiny beauties that this much-maligned season offers. Winter has a delicious flavour to it – frosted lawns, the icy surfaces of ponds cracking and splintering under the bright, winter sun, and plump, jewel like berries adorning the wet, glistening bushes and hedges. In winter, life can be found even amongst the bare and barren. Don’t wait for winter to fade, go out and embrace it with every footfall.

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