Just a Closer Walk With Me

Source: The Pacer Blog

John Matheson was remarkable during the nineteen years we spent together at the Campion Jesuit Community in Regina, Saskatchewan for many things but especially in our neighbourhood  because of his walking.

After every meal, John was out traversing the streets and the Crown land, as he called it, a green area around a creek that ran behind our residence.  He may not have known all our neighbours but they all knew and recognized him.

At the time I did not accompany him because my pace was too fast– not only in walking but every way else.  It was more the tempo of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 hit “These boots are made for walking”, although my goal was not the same as hers in the song “to walk all over you.”

About four years ago I began to appreciate the reason for John’s constant ‘walking’.  I noticed my growing penchant for being sedentary.  And I also noticed my inability to be active in the manner I used to love– skiing, handball, badminton, tennis, running.

Realizing that exercising is critical for my for my ministry and simply living, what to do?  The obvious answer: walking.  But motivation for me is key in beginning any project– especially something perhaps not that attractive, like exercising.  Competition also has been an important element in my physical initiatives or games of any kind.

I found the answer in an App for my phone, Pacer.  It records my every step.  Just the right tool.  But it set a frustrating 10,000 step goal for me!  I discovered after four years how to set my own goal:  5,500 steps!  Now it’s fun to see the confetti and stars cascade down my phone screen every time I reach that goal.

The App has changed my life.  It keeps me attentive to exercising, to my environment, to my habits.  My walk around the block is now conceived in number of steps.  Working at my desk gets punctuated with forays into the church or the school.  The result is increased energy, appetite, spirit.

Supper time is a good time to check progress!  I usually need to top off my steps.   Rather than walking mindlessly (although that can be good too!), I added the rosary, a real bonus to my walking.  My walking now includes reflecting, planning, more prayer.  A

And I like to think in terms of the  wonderful old spiritual, “Just a closer walk with me”, a song with roots in early 1800’s and after being recorded in 1941 was sung by Red Foley, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and many famous artists.  (Here is You Tube Pasty Cline and Willie Nelson’s version:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOKaircCiGI  )

My Jesuit brothers may have noticed recently I could be wearing a path in our living room carpet during these COVID winter times.  Why? Treacherous icy pavements have confined me to the house.  The living room path is precisely 35 steps.

I suspect I have a better appreciation today, not only of John Matheson’s penchant for walking, but also of the tiger’s pacing path in his enclosure at the Assiniboine Park Zoo .

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

  • Monica Storozuk
    Posted at 06:07h, 11 March Reply

    Thanks Fr Frank. I too have discovered the great benefits that come with regular walking. I used to think of walking as beneficial to physical health only but the mental health benefits are equally as important. (I recommend for anyone interested the book “Walking Your Blues Away”, a short book which is very engaging. The book explains how walking improves our mental health)

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 10:07h, 11 March Reply

    LOL! Thank you Frank.

  • Jim Radde
    Posted at 10:32h, 11 March Reply

    Hi Frank,

    I’ll join you in your walk. It is too icy here in St. Paul for walking outside.
    Where I live there is a heated garage. It has stalls for thirty-six cars. It is
    my surrogate for walking in the neighborhood or woods. A good place for
    I have fond memories of Winnipeg in summer and in January.
    God bless you.

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