First Person

This Advent, walking is my spiritual practice

I’m being tutored in exposure.

I walk a few miles every day. It began as an effort to improve my health. Recently, I’ve realized that walking has become a spiritual practice as well—and an especially appropriate one this Advent.

Our family decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. With the living room filled to capacity—statues of snowmen on the piano, Advent wreath on the coffee table, icon of St. Nick staring down from a garland-draped mantle, stockings laid out in front of the fireplace, a tree crowded between two recliners—the whole room felt cozy. It felt safe, the way home should feel.

The next evening, before dinner and prayers and the Saturday-night lighting of the first Advent candle, I took my walk. It was cold outside, so I put on my coat, grabbed my cap with earflaps and a scarf, and headed out the front door. I stepped out of our cocoon of coziness and was shocked by a blast of wintery wind.