Walking has been associated with religion and spirituality for hundreds of years, from pilgrimages made on foot during Biblical times to the phrase “walking with God” used conversationally today. Walking has also long been a part of meditation practices. In recent years, more and more writers have combined spiritual or religious practices with walking. Here are three books centered on ambulatory activities and their spiritual benefits publishing from March to July.
Gina Marie Mammano, who works independently as a spiritual director with people seeking a deepened relationship with the divine, writes that walks can serve as a time and place to contemplate words of wisdom that “nourish the soul” in Camino Divina—Walking the Divine Way: A Book of Moving Meditations with Likely and Unlikely Saints (Skylight Paths, March 28). Each chapter begins with a short biography on and a selection of writings by “saints,” such as Rainer Maria Rilke and John O’Donohue. Mammano also shares a journal entry from her own walk or “camino divina” before encouraging readers to set out on foot contemplating the words in their own way. “As I practiced this simple exercise, walk by walk, place by place, I realized that it has not only enriched my walking practice, but also drove rich meaning deep down into it,” she writes in the book.
In Redemption Road: From Grief to Peace through Walking the Camino de Santiago (Loyola Press, May 1), Father Brendan McManus details his trek across on Spain’s Camino de Santiago trail just a few years after his brother’s suicide, drawing parallels between the grieving process and hiking. “Sometimes the best cure for a wounded soul is a really long walk,” he writes. After overcoming physical, psychological, and spiritual challenges along the way, Father McManus’ book makes a case for how walking can challenge and deepen your faith.
Coming from OneWorld in July, Walking with Plato by journalist Gary Hayden features reflections on the world’s greatest thinkers, such as Buddhist poet Matsuo Basho, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Bertrand Russell, and Henry David Thoreau. While ruminating on the words of the famed philosophers, Hayden chronicles his spiritual growth by sharing beliefs about faith, beauty, and the meaning of life, all of which occurred to him while walking over 11,000 miles from Britain’s John O’Groates to Land’s End. “Most of us, nowadays, feel compelled to fill every waking moment of our lives with TV, music, Facebook, text messages, tweets, and apps,” he writes. “But long-distance walking changed all of that for me.”