The walk of a life

By Deacon Mike Seibert


If you’ve talked to me at all in the past six months, it would be hard to imagine that you don’t know I’m preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago.

While there are many routes, the 1000-year-old traditional route starts in northwest France; pilgrims walk about 500 miles across Spain to the tomb of St. James. Yes – 500 miles. Yes – that means walking an average of 15 miles per day for over a month. Yes – a month. Does that make you nervous?

As you can imagine, that much walking, day after day, will be torture on the feet. To prepare, we’re walking; a lot! That’s a great thing: exercise; being outside; listening to birds. It’s also given me a lot of time for reflection, so this likely isn’t the last article from me inspired by the Camino.

As I ramped up the walking, various aches and pains started popping up. Walking shouldn’t be a big deal, right? I mean, we’ve walked since we were one or two years old! However, we learn something when we start paying attention to the relationship between our bodies and the path we’re walking. Our feet are the connecting points between our body and the earth; so our attention turns to our feet, shoes, socks, sweat, etc. We realize that maybe we could do something better to make it farther with less pain. I’ve researched, and bought new shoes, socks, shirts and other equipment – but unless I physically put in the time and effort walking, I won’t be ready for the walk of my life.

You may think this has nothing to do with you, but every one of us is preparing for the walk of our lifetime – the walk to our own tomb, you might say. What can we improve so we can make it further in life with less pain? If we start getting intentional about preparing for that walk to be with our Maker, we realize that, just like our feet connect our bodies to the path, prayer is the connecting point between our souls and God. Even if we’ve prayed in one way or another our whole lives, we can start giving attention to our prayer life – the content, timing, quality, surroundings and noise.

It would be easy to spend our time researching and buying all the latest prayer books, gadgets, apps, statues, pictures, candles, prayer-chair, ear-plugs, incense; all good stuff – but unless we physically put in the time and effort, we won’t be ready for the walk of our life.

In other words, we gotta be intentional about our prayer lives. To help get started or take a step-up in your prayer life, let me offer five P’s. Place, Posture, Presence, Plan, Priority.

Place: pick a spot where you can be uninhibited and undistracted. Church is often best, but may not be realistic every day. Perhaps pick a room or chair that, over time, becomes your prayer chair; as soon as you sit in it, you can more quickly enter a prayerful mode. Maybe a candle, statue or crucifix can make the space more conducive to prayer.

Posture: For many, simply sitting in a comfortable chair is a great way of feeling the comfort of spending time with God. Some folks like to kneel – partly because it keeps them from falling asleep. If their mind wanders, the knee pain brings them back to remember what they’re doing.

Plan: have a plan for your prayer time. Pick a passage from scripture, a book or reflection to read; then let God speak to you in silence. Rosaries, litanies, novenas are all good stuff; but at least to get started, have a Plan.

Presence: the most central part of prayer is recognizing the presence of God. Invite the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray.

Priority: There’s so much that could be said about developing a prayer life; but until we realize that this is the most important thing, it won’t hit our priority list.

In the end, it’s walking the walk that prepares you for the walk of your life.