I’ve never been the type of person to sit down and pray silently. I’ve observed my friends pray silently, but the practice has never stuck for me. Rather, I find God in physical movement and activity.
As a former gymnast and a current gymnastics coach, I find a lot of joy in creative movement. I also participate in Ignatian Yoga every week. Unable to do these practices during our time in Rome, I have found God in walking. As a student in New York City, I typically walk alone quite quickly with an end destination in mind. However, walking with the class group in Rome has helped me slow down and appreciate the physical journey walking between places provides.
Because I am unfamiliar with Rome and traveling with a group, I am not usually navigating or picking destinations. I am simply following those ahead of me through the winding, busy, and vibrant streets of the city. I like to walk silently, following those ahead of me, and being careful about where I place my feet on the uneven ground (wearing dress shoes makes these walks difficult at times). During these walks, I use the tools I have learned and practiced in the weekly Ignatian Spirituality and Yoga sessions to check in with my body and mind after our various class activities. How is the Holy Spirit manifesting itself in my mind and body? Maybe I am feeling tired from jet-lag and long days; or my calf muscles are tight and sore from walking in dress shoes on uneven ground all week; or perhaps I feel the anxiety crawling in my skin after important but difficult conversations; or maybe I feel the glory of God in the strong beating of my heart that allows me to experience these wonderful walks.
Regardless of what I am feeling, I know that the Holy Spirit is guiding me through my emotions and physical experiences. As I walk through Rome with my friends, I see the sacredness of walking without focusing on the end destination. Rather, the physical journey provides an opportunity for embodied prayer and reflection. Similarly, Pope Francis invites us to walk together through the Synod on Synodality in his call for a Synodal Church. How can we mindfully journey together without focusing on a specific outcome or destination? What will this feel like for us?
As I continue to ponder these questions, I see how synodality, and the journey towards it, are not events, but ongoing processes. As I return to my routines at Fordham, I will continue seeing the sacredness of walking and the value of the endless journey we are on together with God.