it's a miracle. the movement of legs, lungs, eyes, arms in synchrony. the ability to place one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, heel to toe. more than likely, there will come a time when i'm not so sure-footed, when i will not be able to place feet on the pavement.
my mother, an avid walker, insisted on walking up and down the corridor in her apartment building until a week before she died. may her spirit imbue me (and all of us) with the same determination!
as i walk i am filled with gratitude and awe. these moments of appreciation and gratitude seem to increasingly fill my awareness. the sensation of gratitude arises in my core, the very centre of who i am, and pervades my entire being.
are humans hard-wired for gratitude? do we have a built-in tendency for the good, the beneficial? while we certainly can make choices that don't work out very well, we seem to always desire the best, and are thankful for it. what draws us, inexorably, to gratitude?
it may be that gratitude is the least complex way to connect with the Divine. gratitude is available without dogma, without any religious trappings. and there is much that is universal to hold in the embrace of thanks.
the challenge to the elder might be to hold the ageing process itself in that embrace...all of it, the joys of wisdom and the pains of illness, the gentle passing of days and the awful terrors of nights, the drawing of each breath and the knowledge that the last breath is within sight.
each grateful step, those on country lanes and those on city pavements, hold the potential for awakening. our steps may falter in time, yet each one can be a connection to our deepest selves.
this is the purpose of the walking meditation of the Buddhist tradition. the conscious placement of each foot...heel, rolling to toe; heel rolling to toe...creates a field of awareness. nothing else exists but the movement of each leg and foot. there is spacetime, in this snail's pace walking, to fully experience the rotation of the leg in the hip joint, the bending of the knee, the swinging of the leg, the flexing of the ankle, the pushing off of the toes. here the mind has the opportunity to quiet, to still, to appreciate, to hold in gratitude.
and as the steps become less sure, as they begin to falter, mindful attention will guide us on the path.