The Slow Walk of Justice

We were driving in the mountains with friends this past week. Frank and Sheunesu in one car with the girls and Susan and I in the other car, since we haven’t graduated to something big and family-friendly yet. In this instance, I was glad that we needed to take two cars. Susan and I were able to connect and converse in ways we just couldn’t with kid music playing.

IMG_6922We were talking about life and this journey and Susan said something about the fact that we are on a long walk with Jesus. I loved this image. So often I hear that life is a marathon, not a sprint. But I don’t like marathons. They are a lot of work and I’m not a huge fan of running.

Walking is something I love. Connecting on a long trail, out in nature. Having time and distance to talk without losing my breath. This image of my walk with God resonated.

Recently, I read a quote from John Muir:

I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike!

Do you know the origin of that word saunter? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,” To the Holy Land. And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not “hike” through them.

John Muir, in a conversation with Albert Palmer. From The Mountain Trail and Its Message.

I’m not a sprinter or a marathoner. I suppose I’m not a hiker, either. I love the idea of being a saunterer. Someone who sees the Holy in this journey, who passes through nature reverently.

I think this posture could be taken in the way our world moves toward justice. An event happens and I want change now. I want results and action and outrage. I want to move forward, to strike while the iron is hot.

But that’s not reality. Justice happens slowly, carefully, with an attitude of sauntering.

I’m not saying that thoughts and prayers are enough or that we simply do nothing because we are so busy reflecting. But I am saying, as a reminder to myself, that life is not a sprint or a marathon. It is a slow walk. It is spending time together, pausing to eat a snack on the trail, remembering to stay together.

I need to remember that the path to justice is walking alongside. It’s walking alongside my neighbors and friends who are oppressed because our laws and regulations are unfair. It’s walking alongside my neighbors and friends who benefit from those same laws and regulations and don’t want to see their rights changed. It’s walking alongside those who are unable to vote, to express their opinion and values. It’s walking alongside those who create the space for our national opinions and values.

It’s easy to go for a saunter with someone who believes what I do, who sees the world similarly. It’s hard to hold space and conversation with someone who I don’t immediately agree with.

I’m learning how deep justice runs. That justice for the poor and widowed means making space for the rich and married, as well. It’s not an either/or but a both/and. There is space for all of us to walk through this holy land.

How do you make space to engage with those who have different beliefs? Are you a sprinter, a marathoner, a hiker, or a saunterer?

BackyardThis post is Day 10 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

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10 thoughts on “The Slow Walk of Justice

  1. I’m usually in a hurry. I was a runner for several years and I ran because it was faster. But these days, I find myself trying to intentionally slow down. At times Still no success when it comes to driving. I really like that excerpt on the word saunter. So much so I sent it to a friend who seems to be a saunterer himself. Slowing down for stories from others – that’s really what is key.

    1. I think hiking with girls has slowed me down a lot…. But then, getting ready for school always feels rushed and chaotic. Maybe I need to saunter in my everyday life more. 😉

  2. THIS: “I’m learning how deep justice runs. That justice for the poor and widowed means making space for the rich and married, as well. It’s not an either/or but a both/and. There is space for all of us to walk through this holy land.”

  3. Annie this is beautiful. Ugh, I wish I was a saunterer but I’m more of a speed hiker haha. He’s taught me over the years how to be but I’m pretty stubborn. 😉 a good reminder here.

  4. I tend to saunter – yet at times I quick step it. The difference is when I am new to the idea – I saunter – I want to experience it all slowly. If I know what is coming, what is just beyond the present – I move quickly to it. I think I am the same when it comes to ideas – Marilynne Robinson wrote, “Touch the limit of your understanding and it falls away, revealing mystery upon mystery.” Yet when I find the understanding and it gives me angst in how I understand it- I will rush past it. Sometimes, I am not sure I want to understand some points of view.

  5. Love this image. And it takes the pressure off from thinking we have to change the world immediately. So good. So glad you’re writing this series!

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