Growing up in a small, Southern, cotton mill town in the 1950’s, our mother provided as best she could, but money was scarce for the necessities, much less for a luxury like a car. As I remember, we either walked, rode the infrequent bus, or asked someone for a ride in their car to our destination. Of these, the most used mode of transportation was walking. We walked to school, to town, to church, to work, to most places or occasions. Walking for my siblings, mother, and me was our normal. As teenagers, most of us walked. Many days after school, I would walk a female classmate who lived near me to her home because in those days parents did not pick-up their children, and I was in awe of her. Also, the world was safe for us to walk. In college I tired of hitchhiking, and I purchased a fine, two-tone green, 1955 Ford. Walking as a means of getting somewhere, even over a short distance, stopped. As a college student my life horizons expanded, and the Ford and I shared many trips and experiences. To lose the verb form of walking was not a necessity, but it made life certainly more convenient. However, as I age, I regret having lost its verb and noun forms in my life.
As a young father, I would go walking or take a walk with my young children. In this way, we would traverse the block or street and see what we could see. We explored. We rambled. We brought home treasures. But that was all. I drove a car to work, shopping, church, or wherever. If I did not drive a car, I rode in one. No more walking to and from the movie theatre or stores or church. It was outdated.
This brings me to the story of Cleopas and Mary in Luke 24 and what occurs during their walk to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. This is a beautiful story of Jesus revealing Himself to two disciples as they walk. A Christian couple, Mary and Cleopas were likely discussing the news of the risen Lord and are not surprised to be joined by another traveler. They are shocked, however, (v.18) that their companion is not aware of the news from Jerusalem “in these days.” So much of the Bible happens as people are walking, and I don’t think that is unusual for the time: a stranger joining you as you walked along a desert road would not be as shocking as the appearance of a stranger suddenly sitting in your SUV as you speed along I-77. Walking with her husband, Mary had time to think and talk with him about the recent events, and when our Lord began with Moses to teach Mary and Cleopas, he had their attention because they were walking, not speeding down the road. They could, and did, engage in conversation by listening to and talking with each other as they walked.
In his sermon today, our Pastor told how, as a seminary student, a teacher would say to him at times, “Come on, take a walk with me.” He told how that would sometimes frighten him because he could sense a mild reprimand coming, but at times he would be affirmed for doing something well. His point was that “a walk” was used as a place and time to have a conversation about something important with one of his teachers.
Our culture is not like that of the 1st century. We have created an infrastructure that is designed for mobility and speed. That is as it is, and we will not go backward. However, could we not all take some time each day to walk along a paved path or quiet road or even in a mall. Walk. Slow down. Even talk with a friend as you walk or greet strangers you meet. Look for some treasure on the side of the road. Who knows, you may be joined by another sojourner who has news for you.