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  • Writer's pictureRachel F

Walking Deeper Into Love

Walking the hillside trails this winter each day has become a practice in the interplay between love and stature. The hill, which seemed so far away and vast when we first moved here four years ago, now feels small and familiar. Years of walking the same trails, seeing the changes between the seasons, and listening to the shape of the land as it unfolds itself, has carved a depth of intricacy into our hearts. The meadow that seemed eternal becomes tiny, knowable, familiar. The woods that once were vast and inexhaustible became a series of groves, circles of friends and allies dotted with knolls, boulders, or crossed by ephemeral streams, which sighs and sings out its banks predictably as the snows gather and melt from the once shadowed corner of mossy hillside each year. Love reshapes us in relation to the beloved. It draws us deeper in and makes us larger even as the landscape becomes smaller. But then, we discover that this smallness does not mean simplicity. Rather, whole universes expand and emerge in the leaf litter between our outspread fingertips when we find an inky cap mushroom. “Hey! Look what grew here! I’ve never seen this before!” Our proximity to each other in love expands our stature even as our intimacy reveals complexities that make us seem smaller.

Walking as Spiritual Practice

Even in the snow, or the cold, the practice of walking slowly can ground our bodies and open us to this interplay between loving relationship and depth of being. Thoreau writes in his work Walden, that as he learns a relationship with the land even a small walk from one end of his yard to the other could take him an entire summer. In this practice you are invited to this specificity of attention - to draw your movements so small that you can see the eternal which dwells in the heart of every living thing.

Begin by placing your feet firmly on the ground beneath you. Inhale. Exhale. Allow the feeling of the earth to seep through your soles up to the crown of your head as you feel your body expand skyward. Imagine the soil as it feels your feet pressing against it, as it holds your body. Then, being conscious of your movement, and moving slowly, lift your foot. Begin with the heel and slowly move through the ball of your foot until just your toes are grazing the surface of the ground. Then lift your foot, and place it down. Begin by placing your toes and slowly, as feels comfortable for your body, rock forward and roll your foot down - toes, knuckles, arch, heel. Take another breath. Inhale. Exhale. Move in this way keeping the feeling of your body in your attention. In this kind of movement the pace and the destination are not important, the presence and attention to the relationship between your body and the ground are themselves the core of the practice. Breath. Inhale. Exhale. And, when your practice is finished for today, offer a blessing of thanks to the earth.

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