Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Joy of Walking (and a Brief Hebrew Lesson)

Okay, about this time on Sunday I'm usually giving you a report of my latest run or bike. As you know, I am slowly getting back into training after last weekend's marathon. Today, however, instead of pressing the "run" or "bike" options on my Garmin, I pressed "walk." 

Now, you know me. You know that I like to be a little more active than simply taking walks. I run (not walk) for the same reason I don't golf or play chess -- I need to be active. But there are many good reasons to include walking as part of your cross-training routine. First, walking allows you to enjoy views like this one on the River Walk in Danville. 

(Well, you could also get this view while running or cycling, but you get my drift.) Second, slowing down enough to walk allows you to travel off the beaten path when you see a sign like this one: 

Finally, the Bible has a lot to say about our "walk," doesn't it? But here's the interesting thing about that. When in the New Testament we read about "running" or "racing," it's usually Paul who writes about such things. In general, the Jews didn't think very much about athletic competition. They had no Olympic Games. They had no foot races (except when the enemy was after you). These are all what we might call uniquely Hellenistic concepts. But what the Jews did talk about was their halakha, or their walk. This term is used metaphorically to describe the direction and tenor of one's entire life and being. That's why I have a bit of a problem when the NIV renders Eph. 4:1 as "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Of course, this is what Paul means. But it's not how he said it. That's why other translations use the word "walk" instead of "live." Here, for example, is the NASB:

I ... urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.

I prefer this rendering, not because it's necessarily more "literal," but because it retains the Semitic idea behind Paul's use of "walk." If I may be permitted to quote one of my Basel professors, Markus Barth (Ephesians, vol. 2, p. 427):

... in Pauline letters the Greek verb "to walk" ... suggests something different from a casual promenade: it means to follow a prescribed way in a fixed order, comparable to the march of Israel under God's guidance in the wilderness.

Paul then goes on in Ephesians to describe this "walk" as humble and gentle, patient and loving, etc. This is the essence, if you will, of God's calling on our lives as believers. And note: This calling involves not a step or a brief series of steps, but a long drawn-out walk. 

Most of my walks, like today's, are at my normal walking pace with little to no focus on time and pace. These periods of walking are used to recover from the brisker pace of jogging or running. The object is endurance, not speed. 

For me, walking is essentially rest. Rest is a good 4-letter word that let's your body rebuild itself and get stronger. Walkers land with a force equivalent to only about 1.5 times your body weight, which is much less than a runner whose landing force is equivalent to 3-4 times your body weight. This reduces the stress on bones and joints and therefore also reduces the risk of injury. As you get faster as a walker, your stride length decreases but your stride rate (also called your "turnover" rate) increases. But to walk, all you need are two legs. And when you are walking, there is only one thing that counts: the beauty of the landscape. Walking has ruined me that way. 

Well, I doubt that anything more needs to be said on this subject. There's just something about walking. I know you get it.