Opinion

Walk together, walk with God

Beth Benson

Walking makes my heart sing. Some of my earliest memories are walking through the forest or along the sea, up hill or down, across prairie or along a river, at sunrise or sunset, under the stars or in the bright light of day.

I listen and learn best when I am walking. It is my deepest discipline of prayer or contemplation and it is rare for a day to pass without a walk. Once I spent four months walking in wilderness areas in the western half of the United States. Recently, in an airport, confused about how to get to the next gate, a stranger called out to me, “Would you rather walk or ride?” Earlier directions had not included the option of walking, I was told to get on the train to cross the airport. Joy flooded me and erupted with a smile and a laugh as I acknowledged that I would rather walk than ride.

I never tire of the story in Genesis where Abram and Sarai go walking with God. They leave everything behind: family, community, and the world they know, because they want to walk with God. Listening to the voice of the Holy One, they trust and follow through thick and thin. As they walk with God they learn about themselves and each other; they learn about strange lands and other people, and God never loses them or gives up on them.


Pastor Beth Benson and Pastor Make Ditmanson hold the cross carried throughout town on the Cross Walk. About 30 people gathered at the Congregational United Church of Christ at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 14 to take part in the annual Cross Walk. Various people took turns carrying the wooden cross along the way, sometime singing songs of praise. Stops were also made where prayers were said. A service followed the walk at the Evangelical Free Church. 
Staff photo/Brian Larsen Pastor Beth Benson and Pastor Make Ditmanson hold the cross carried throughout town on the Cross Walk. About 30 people gathered at the Congregational United Church of Christ at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 14 to take part in the annual Cross Walk. Various people took turns carrying the wooden cross along the way, sometime singing songs of praise. Stops were also made where prayers were said. A service followed the walk at the Evangelical Free Church. Staff photo/Brian Larsen There is something holy and precious about walking together. It draws us out of trying to figure out who is right and who is wrong, into a shared experience of being on the same path together, breathing the same air, hearing the same sounds, seeing the same sights. We are not required to agree on politics or theology. All my life I have believed in the healing power of walking together with the Holy One and each other.

After a storm this past winter, I was walking in the woods with my husband and dogs and we found a young aspen that had fallen in the storm. It occurred to me that the broken, fallen tree was just the right size for a cross. The broken tree became a 9-foot cross for our community Cross Walk. We took turns carrying the cross, sharing the path and the praying, and learning about each other on the journey. No one argued, no one took sides. We just walked with God, carrying and sharing prayers for the healing of the world. After we walked, we worshiped together. Many churches, but singing the same songs. Rev. Mary Ellen Ashcroft preached a beautiful sermon about the cross: foolishness to the world but filled with God’s wisdom poured out in deepest love upon all creation.

“Come walk with me, the journey is long.” It is a song that emerged in South Africa as they struggled to walk out of apartheid and into freedom. The journey from alienation to reconciliation can be long and hard. It is tempting to walk and talk with people we know and stay with what is familiar, but God calls us to go walking. God invites us to walk together into what we do not know, to travel in unfamiliar places. We are not asked to go alone. God is always with us, helping us find the way, learning friendship and blessing as we go. “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms. What a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.” I am grateful to lean on the arms of love as we walk with a God who never loses us or forsakes us.

Each month a member of the Cook County Ministerium will offer Spiritual Reflections. This week our contributor is Reverend Beth Benson of the First Congregational Church – UCC in Grand Marais.


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