Solvitur Ambulando “It is solved by walking”

walking a trail

That same day two of the disciples were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. 

Luke 24:13-14 The Message

In these weeks when we have been mostly cooped up in our houses, we have had few opportunities to leave the confines of our garages, patios, and yards. Yet, there is at least one simple activity that we have been told we can do, “Go outside and go for a walk or run if you choose.” That is, as long as you do so safely, maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance from those who do not live in your house, and, if the path or sidewalk is crowded, wear a mask to protect others.

I was reminded recently of the Latin phrase solvitur ambulando—“it is solved by walking”—as a way to relieve the anxiety I often feel in these days of COVID-19 or even the mental block that sometimes comes when I am creating one of these devotions. So a-walking we will go…

The beloved post-Easter story that Luke tells of the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus probably was an example of how they were practicing solvitur ambulando. True, they likely were on their way home and didn’t have the luxury most of us have of jumping in their car and zipping on home. But there on the way is where, in intimate conversation, they were able to begin the process of working through their deep grief of losing Jesus and speculating about the surprising and unbelievable report from some of the women of their group that they had seen Jesus alive—risen from the dead. It helped to walk and talk and even be silent now and then.

I have much appreciated the opportunities my wife Bonita and I have had to go on walks around our neighborhood and even on the Greenbelt not too far away. We have been able to breathe deeply the fresh air, soak in the sunshine, and even enjoy the rustle of a windy day. We do get to greet neighbors and other out walking—always trying to maintain the safe social distance. We see owners walking their dogs—or is it the other way around?

There is wildlife too…small critters here and there…and the birds chirping cheerfully in the bushes and trees. I hear the call of the red-winged blackbirds immediately transporting me to days gone by in the fields and marshes of my youth. There is quiet conversation and times of silent reflection while we take in the beauty and goodness of God’s marvelous creation. Yes, it is true, walking can be a way of soothing the spirit and shaking loose the roadblocks of the mind.

And occasionally there is the smile of a passing walker or a brief greeting or comment shared in a friendly way to remind us that we are not alone in all this and maybe, just maybe, the stranger six plus feet beside us is really Jesus on the way…

Prayer...

Creator God, we are grateful for the lives you give us and the ways you show us to protect each other as we live through this difficult time. Thank you for all who follow the guidelines to help everyone to be safe. Thank you for all who sacrifice to take care of us in this time. Be with us as we walk and help us to see you in the friends and strangers on our way. Amen.

Keith Hammer

Keith Hammer

Retired ELCA Pastor

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jim Grunow

    Nice take on the Emmaus story, Keith. You are encouraging me to pay more attention to what I am seeing and hearing on my daily 3-mile walks through the neighborhoods where I live.

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