Walking The Way While Sheltering At Home

Walking While Sheltering: Changing Plans and Shifting Perspective


I was meant to be flying home from Italy today after a week of walking in Umbria and a week of retreating in Tuscany


It’s strange how far away that feels as a possibility now. I do believe I will return to Italy one day, but I am not sure when or how. And I wonder how much will have changed when I go.


To mark the time that we would have been walking in Italy, my friend Kandace and I decided to do our walk virtually


So for the last 14 days of April, we walked in our respective neighborhoods, mimicking the number of miles we would have been walking together in Italy. We had planned to walk the Way of Saint Francis, to return to beloved Assisi and to read and study a book about the poor little man while we walked. 


So instead, we walked around our neighborhoods, listening to and studying the book, and texting each other photos and quotes. Our “walking while sheltering” was a small effort towards not retreating completely inside of ourselves during this shut-at-home time, and even though we were not walking together in Italy, it was a sweet honoring of what could have been and what might still be one day. 


And perhaps more importantly, it was an honoring of what is. It was our humble offering to the reality of this present moment. 


We looked at our plans, and after plenty of bemoaning about what we could not do, we said: well, here is what we can do. 


In this now moment.

Under these current circumstances.

With what we have. 


On the first day, I set out from my house in the snow, uncertain of whether we would keep it up or even if it was a good idea. 


A small beginning. 


5 miles around my neighborhood. 




Then, when I got home, I sat down with a cup of tea and read Chapter 1 of Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr. It is a book I have lived in this last year, and it opens itself up to me anew with every reading. 


In a shared Google doc, Kandace and I typed out our favorite quotes, reflections on the day, questions about the reading, and comments to each other. 

Then we did it again the next day. And the next.


About the fourth day, after covering 10 miles, we found that we had both surprised ourselves by our commitment to the miles we had listed out ahead of time in our Google doc. A testimony to the power of writing down a goal. 


We were really, actually walking the number of miles each day that we had said we would try to do.

Sometimes, I did the miles all at once and some days I broke them up into morning and evening walks. I walked mostly alone, but some evening the boys came along.

Some days I journaled and journaled about the reading or the walking and other days I fell into bed without writing anything at all. 

It was kind of just like how it would be on any walk.




One day I fixed a fancy-ish Italian lunch for my family because I was missing how you stop for lunch in restaurants along the way on walks in Europe. 

One day Kandace walked to a favorite smoothie bar. 

We both walked to coffee shops and picked up take-out coffees. 

On the day we were meant to walk into Assisi, I found an outdoor labyrinth to walk to. The walk there ended up being on a long stretch of busy road that made for a fairly unpleasant six or seven miles. 

But I finally found the labyrinth, a design mowed into a field that I would have walked right by if I had not been searching for it.

I sat down in the middle after walking to the center to just be still with my creaky legs for a while. The grass was wet and it soaked through my hiking trousers. 




It was decidedly not the same as entering the glory of Assisi

But it was what it was.

After a while, I got up and traced the pattern back out from the center to the exit. I walked back out onto the busy road, called Taido and asked him to pick me up.

It was a rather anticlimactic end to an imagined walk with Saint Francis.

It took me several days to remember that the end is never the reason I really do a walk anyway. Of course, I do love to arrive at a new place.

But the journey is what I really love. 

The miles on the way are the good stuff. 


On the way is where I heard Richard Rohr teach me to let go (again).

On the way is where I found the strength to wake up and walk out my front door when it was raining or snowing or I was just tired.

On the way is where I faced my fears about the limitations of my body.

On the way is where I learned again that I don’t really know anything. Even the same walk in my neighborhood that I thought I knew keeps changing everyday.


As we all stand on this threshold of not knowing what will happen,

Of blessed uncertainty,

And holy mess,

I am hopeful that walking these last two weeks of April will help me continue to stay

on the way.



To see that this present moment is where the good stuff is. 

If I will accept it,

as it is.


Now it’s May, and perhaps I will spend a little less time bemoaning what I cannot do.


I am ready to say again:

Well, here is what I can do. 


In this now moment.

Under these current circumstances.

With what I have. 




1 Comment

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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