Walk: Bodies and Motion

Walk is an interesting word for the year because it is ubiquitous. The idea of travel by foot is everywhere – both implied and spelled out – in the scriptures. It is also very both a metaphor as well as an action.

As I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed so many ways we refer to the motion of our bodies – people flee, run, sit, arise, stand and more. They sojourn, glean, trespass, stumble, snare, trap. They prostrate.

But it’s even more than this. Feet are mentioned everywhere. How beautiful are the feet of them … He set my feet upon a rock … Jesus washed the disciples’ feet … His sandals I am unworthy to untie …

In the gospels, at least in the ESV translation, Jesus often comes and goes and enters and leaves. He does occasionally walk – like on water.

The basic use of bodies is everywhere. Where does one draw the line? If I mark come and go (came or went) it seems like it would be every page! Jesus moved around, and mostly by foot.

There is one record of him riding: He rode a donkey into Jerusalem. We have record of him being in boats – sleeping while crossing the Sea of Galilee, sitting in a boat to teach, instructing his disciples about leaven whilst traveling.

The OT is full of chariots and horses and rapid travel, but it also tells the Kings of Israel to not collect chariots and horses themselves. Why? Samuel and his sons rode on donkeys, but not horses. David rode a donkey, we know because his son Solomon was led out on it to be anointed King. But Solomon and the later kings of Judah and Israel had horses and chariots – Ahab was shot in his chariot. Even in Isaiah, God tells us that Egypt and Assyria will come attacking via chariot.

The Tabernacle was supposed to move around and be a part of the people. Jesus tabernacled among us – he walked from place to place (mostly). When the Temple was built in one stationary place, the people had to go there to worship.

So … our bodies live and move and have their being. Walk is often a metaphor for life’s spiritual journey as well. It’s all over the Bible, but I’ve been reading The Word in the Wilderness by Malcom Guite and he shares poems that are a spiritual journey in overlapping parallel with a physical journey. I didn’t remember this from the last time, but at least one of his poems (First Steps, Brancaster) was written upon his recovery from a broken leg. And this week’s Prayer/Walk is similarly body reflecting the spiritual.

I’ve been thinking that we think about these things much too separately. I mean, we have to. At least I do. I struggle to see the integrated whole of physical/spiritual walking/journey. The body is the soul and vice versa. Embodied souls. Souled bodies. I can’t even come close to talking about them concurrently … and yet I just know that we divide them in our thinking more than we ought.

When we walk, as we come and go, as we walk along the way with our feet or stand in that large room … our souls are affected. It matters to our souls and our faith the posture of our bodies are in motion.


    1. Thanks. I’m still not sure it all came together how I wanted it to, but it had to come out somehow. Overflow.

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