I need to learn to walk.
That sounds ridiculous, right? I’ve been able to walk for decades. How hard can it be, after all?! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!
The problem is, though, I have all these bad habits I’ve picked up over those decades of walking. I have suffered through a knee injury and the resulting arthritis, and back issues.
As a result, I hyperextend my knees, hunch my upper back, and carry tension in my pelvis. None of these things are too noticeable on a short walk. I can make it through regular life without my knees or back giving me too much trouble on a regular basis.
That all changes on a long walk. I’ve been walking 25-30 kilometre walks as part of my training the last few Saturdays. Those long walks have been the diagnostic of what’s wrong in my gait. On a long walk, there’s no way not to notice the knee pain from constant hyperextension. And that very naturally leads to a desire to solve the problem! (This, by the way, has led to a fascinating foray into the field of biomechanics to investigate and try to solve what’s wrong!)
I’ve been thinking of the parallels to spiritual life. Over time, habits and ideas creep in, and I don’t notice them in my daily life. They’re doing damage, but I just don’t see how in the short term. I need a spiritual diagnostic to show me what needs correction. A pilgrimage seems like a great way to do this – a lot of thinking time while walking, to reflect on my life, my decisions, my habits, my thinking.
Psalm 139 ends with these words (from The Message):
Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
What are some of the ways that you do spiritual diagnostics in your life?
One last by the way: Teen Missions friends, I think that serving on a TMI team is another fantastic spiritual diagnostic!