Take a Walk and Breathe

walking through grass

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that understood how to dwell in outdoor space. We lived in a small town in the middle of farm country; most people had big yards, many of them filled with flowers, vegetable gardens, trees, swing sets, treehouses, and pets. I can remember sitting in our backyard with my parents, and all we did was watch the various birds that flitted in the trees and visited the bird bath. My parents were probably sipping from their coffee cups. But we weren’t busy, and we didn’t care that we weren’t busy. It was fine just to be outdoors, sitting quietly, enjoying the space.

Probably because of this background, I didn’t have to make a big leap to think of prayer as belonging outdoors as well as indoors. I grew up attending church, Sunday School, and various church activities regularly. I knew all about indoor prayer. But I also experienced the transcendent while outdoors: watching birds; witnessing the blooming of this rose and that flower; tasting the fresh onions or green beans or tomatoes from the cultivated patch of soil just feet away from the back door; lying on my back in the grass and getting lost in the sky overhead, whether it was filled with clouds or stars.

You may or may not have a well-developed sense of outdoor God-conversation. Whichever the case, I encourage you to nurture that spiritual sensibility this summer. To begin, do some wordless walking. Don’t concern yourself with saying any kind of prayer. Simply walk outdoors—on the sidewalks of your neighborhood, down a road or lane, through a pasture or a city park. Walk and breathe deeply. With each breath you take in, consider that God is filling you with grace; with each breath you send out, consider that you are giving to God your worries as well as your wonder.

  • How have you experienced the Divine in creation?
  • What, if anything, feels a bit odd or uncomfortable about outdoor prayer?

Sometimes we take walking for granted. This week, go for a walk, and determine that you will walk with joy and purpose.


This post is part of a series: Praying Through the Summer.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 92 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

8 Comments on Take a Walk and Breathe

  1. Your words today resonated with me so much. I am a daily walker and love to talk with God doing so. I just enjoy nature, This past week my knee gave out on me. I have been housebound for ten days and feeling so sorry for my self as I miss my walks. I know I can pray indoors and do so daily . I know this enforced incident is but a small step in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully I will arrive at a better space and more strengthened spiritually.Thank you for your beautiful words.

  2. Vinita, that was a beautiful post and video, and yes, I am deeply grateful that (so far) I am physically able to walk outdoors; but having been born & bred in the city I love I simply cannot pray outdoors. I hope God doesn’t mind…

  3. Hello Vinita,
    I am Patrick Brennan and I live in North East England. I love your “Walk and Breathe” article. It is so inspiring and I resonated with it so much. I love all types of spirituality, but especially the type of spirituality you write about so eloquently.

    I would love to share more with you when this is possible for you. Thank you abundantly.
    Pat.

    • Patrick Brennan ! Those lovely Irish genes of spirituality which have inspired millions over the years! Maybe Vinita has them too – wouldn’t be surprised!

      • Thanks Agnes,
        My full name is Patrick Francis Brennan. My deceased mam was Irish. My paternal grandparents were Irish, so as you can see, 75% of my grandparents are Irish. Dad and I were both born in North East England. It would be great to chat more with you? Where are you based? Oh by the ways, mam would regularly say to me, “I feel closest to God when I am in my garden.”

        • I just learned from the DNA results of Ancestry.com that I am 24% Irish! 22% English–I thought I would be much more English because that branch of the family is the one I know about. But, having recently done a Celtic pilgrimage in Ireland, I’m not surprised at my Irish roots, because I felt so at home!

  4. I find walking alone outdoors the perfect time and place to converse with God. He fills these spaces with such beauty I can’t be anything but grateful that He has given me these gifts to revel in. The conversation is usually aloud, quiet but aloud. I can almost feel the graces He is bestowing physically around my heart, at which time I know that He is in me and I am in Him and the Holy Spirit guides me. Outdoors is the greatest place for me to pray, to talk to God, to present my fears and hopes, and to express my gratitude. I give myself to Him, He gives Himself to me. Fantastic!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*