A walk to retreat, reflect, and remember Print
Thursday, Apr. 09, 2020 -- 12:00 AM
'[Assistant] Editor's View'
Kevin Wondrash

Those who know me well know that I like to walk. I'll try to walk the one mile to Mass every weekend (when it is being celebrated publicly), and I'll occasionally walk the 2.5 miles to work from my apartment on Madison's west side.

If it were up to me, I'd walk everywhere instead of driving.

In my mind, unless you're Richard Petty or A.J. Foyt, nothing good comes from driving.

Other than for practical reasons, I'll also go for walks to satisfy the clichéd check boxes such as "getting out of the house" and "getting my steps in".

With the weather slowly improving and the temperatures slowly rising, I recently took a walk "for fun".

I also saw it as a Lenten exercise as well as a physical one. There was prayer -- listening along with and praying a Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Stations of the Cross.

There was fasting -- dedicating the time to said prayers instead of listening to my usual headbanging tunes.

There was almsgiving -- okay, there wasn't exactly any almsgiving, but, this certainly serves as a reminder to myself and all of us, to keep supporting our parishes during this challenging time of pandemic.

All that being said, the walk became sort of a retreat experience.

A Lenten retreat on foot

While I wasn't at a retreat center or hermitage, my trek became noticeably retreat-like.

In an area of Madison that is usually busy and bustling with car and foot traffic, especially at that particular hour, something was very different.

The usual woosh, vroom, beep, and screech of vehicle sounds were replaced with -- well, not much.

While not complete silence, relatively-speaking for that road -- it was silent.

Even with the sounds of prayer coming through my ear buds, the decrease in average noise around me was very apparent.

If indeed "silence is God's first language" (thank you, Father Keating), then the Almighty One clearly has a lot to say lately to me and anyone else who is out and about where signs of life used to overflow.

I, first, wondered about all of the people that would normally be zooming past me on the road. Where are they? Are they safe? Are they healthy? How long will it be before traffic picks up again?

I, next, reflected upon the businesses that were closed, easily spotlighted by empty parking lots in front of their store windows. Are the employees struggling for money? Can the business owners keep things going? What about the people who need or maybe made frequent use of these businesses? Is it something they can go without for a short time or for good?

As I recited "Jesus, I Trust in You" after "Jesus, I Trust in You," I couldn't help but feel a little guilty.

I was having a reasonably decent evening -- walking, praying, not too stressed or worried at that moment about things -- but many of the usual inhabitants of my walking route, and its complementary driving route, might not have been having such a good time at that moment.

I thought, and continue to ponder now, that maybe those who don't have it so bad are being called to something more.

If you have the time and energy to treat this time of pandemic like a retreat, pray for others, fast for others, and give alms for others (ah, there it is).

If you see the world around you has changed in a hurry, ask God what he's trying to tell you.

Who knew going for a walk could be so profound?

Time will pass

As I got closer to my home, and the end of my temporary journey, I wondered how long it would be before I'd go for a walk and hear the usual car traffic again or come within inches again of almost being a Grand Theft Auto-like pedestrian casualty in a crosswalk, and take it all for granted again.

I wondered what things would be like when this challenge passes by and "everyday life" takes over everyone's lives again.

Like any retreat weekend, this pandemic will have a "Go Day," and we have to "go home" and into the real world again.

We may lose some of the retreat feeling, but inside, we'll be changed in ways we won't even notice at first.

Time will prove me right or wrong, but I think the shackles of this pandemic will come off rather quickly, or when looking back on it all, it won't feel like it lasted a very long time.

I hope and pray we all use this time as a retreat, whether we are stuck at home or able to walk among the silence.

No matter our location, where there is silence, God is trying to speak to us.

Are we listening? Are we answering? It's not too late to start either of those.

I have an idea for you. Why not go for a walk?