Alan’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Have you ever thought of walking in the rain as a spiritual practice?

Here in the Midlands, rain is ubiquitous at this season of the year, and the need to walk my dog forces me to get outside and walk no matter what the weather. I usually bundle us both up in our raincoats, pull my hood over my head and take off. My head is down, and I am intent on avoiding puddles and complaining under my breath about the inclement weather.

Recently, halfway through the walk my attitude changed. I started remembering the delight of walking in the rain as a child, not afraid of getting my head and my clothes wet, loving the brisk, beautiful feel of wind and water on my face. I remembered jumping in puddles and dancing down the street with joy. So, I threw back my hood and for the rest of the walk I took delight in rain.

The rain was teaching me to accept what is and was helping me let go of my best laid plans and expectations. There was also a much-needed quietness to walking in it. The drops falling on my face were cleansing not just the air but my spirit as well. I came back feeling refreshed, renewed and uplifted.

This walking in the rain, I realised, really is a very spiritual thing.

Our spiritual practices are not meant to be confined to reading the scriptures and traditional forms of prayer. All of life – particularly our interactions with God’s creation – provides opportunities to learn more about the God we believe in and the rhythm of life that is intended for us.

Each season of the year provides its own spiritual lessons and insights. The rhythm of winter walks in the rain or snow is soon replaced by summer barefoot strolls along the beach. Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to walk barefoot because we might hurt our feet or pick up a germ lurking in the bare earth. We are willing to give up delight to avoid the transitory pain of toughening up. In the process, I think we lose so much of the joy and carefreeness that a barefoot life gives us.

When Jesus sends out the seventy-two disciples ahead of him into every town and place he intended to go, he says:

I’m sending you out armed with vulnerability, like lambs walking into a pack of wolves. Don’t bring a wallet. Don’t carry a backpack. I don’t even want you to wear sandals. Walk along barefoot, quietly, without stopping for small talk (Luke 10:3, 4 The Voice).

Barefoot! Armed with vulnerability!

Have we lost some of our spiritual strength and balance because we are afraid to go barefoot, armed only with vulnerability? My growing delight in the rhythms of creation and the activities it inspires me to adapt has encouraged me to see spiritual practice in a new light. All of life can become a spiritual practice if we take time to pause, look and listen -if we recognise that God revealed in the Bible is just as vividly revealed in the world around us.

Is it raining today? Consider a walk on your own outside to enjoy the invigorating effects. Lift your face to the elements. Feel the rain in your hair and the wind on your face. How does it make you feel? Are you aware of God touching your spirit in the same way that the water is touching your face?

Enjoy the wonder of a God who is revealed all around you, in every season.

Grace and peace to you,

Alan.