“So I say, walk by the Spirit…”
My wife told me the other day that it rains approximately 200 days every year in Brussels. It rains more often than not, in other words. Upon learning this, I berated myself once again for not getting a raincoat immediately when I moved here. After three years in Belgium, I still don’t have one. After 600 days of rain, I still don’t have one. But I guess I don’t walk many places.
Have you noticed that? In many cities, but Brussels particularly, most people don’t walk very far or long. As a capital city goes, Brussels is fairly small. The bus, the metro, and the tram lines can generally get you pretty close to where you need to go. This makes avoiding the rain straightforward, yet having had the opportunity to walk across the city during a public transport strike, I realized that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I walked across the southern portion of Brussels. In that, I walked in sun and in the rain (a typical Brussels day). I had the opportunity to observe the city, to see the movement people. I had the space to breathe and think while I made my way, slowly, to my next appointment. I realized that I was moving at human pace. We’ve grown so used to rushing around, that we do not often take the time to move at human speed, the speed of our own legs and feet. In doing so, my eyes opened up and I saw much of Brussels for the first time, even if I had been there before.
I wonder if this is what Scripture means when St Paul encourages the followers of Jesus to “walk by the Spirit.” To walk with a sense of openness, an openness to God, an openness to others, an openness to the Spirit that prompts us in unexpected ways. In walking in the Spirit, we are opened to things like love and joy, peace and patience, as well as kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These do not come all at once, just as walking is not an immediate happening. There are paths that meander along; we get lost and find ourselves in odd places. It is a journey. God is not a god of instant gratification, but a God of process, a God of the journey, and God invites us to walk along with each other and with God’s self. In doing so, we are opened to so much life. And if it happens to rain, grab your coat, or don’t and dance and soak in all the life you can. I know I do.