Freerange Friday: The Practice of Parable Walking

by Lilly Lewin

by Lilly Lewin

Opening Prayer
Lord, I know not what to ask of You.
You alone know what my true needs are.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs, which may be hidden from me.
I dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation.
I can only wait upon You; my heart is open to You.
Visit and help me in Your steadfast love. 
Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will.
I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice.
I put all my trust in You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me. Amen.
A Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow (a Russian Orthodox Priest)

This summer, I am introducing Parable Walks to our thinplace community here in Nashville. Parable Walks were a part of our Spiritual Practice in our days living in Cincinnati, Ohio and this practice is a great way to connect with God out in nature and/or in your own neighborhood. You can do a parable walk on your own, or with a small group, youth group, with friends, roommates or even an entire parish.

The way we traditionally did a Parable Walk with our Cincinnati community was set up a time to meet a local part on a Saturday or Sunday morning before it got too hot or too crowded. We got bagels and coffee from Panera Bread and ate together as people arrived at the park. Then we gathered for an opening prayer and a “Lectio Divina” of a passage of Scripture. Sometimes we used the gospel passage from the Lectionary of the week, and sometimes we chose a parable to consider as we walked.

Remind the group that this is their time to be with Jesus. Do this walk in silence. Remind them that cell phones should be avoided except as a timer/clock. If you have children doing this, they can and should go with a parent or in small group for safety, but everyone else should be encouraged do this practice on their own.

We had the Bible passage printed out and we’d told people that they could bring their journals and water for the walk. We had three people read the passage from the Bible invited people to listen to the passage and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them in both words and images.

The hand out also included these directions:

Jesus used the lilies of the field and the stuff along the path where he walked to teach his disciples about the kingdom of God…Allow what you see on your walk, to be the teaching tool of Jesus for you! Let the beauty of Creation speak to you!

Walk in God’s Creation, or, you may
prefer to sit somewhere where you have an expansive view of God’s creation.
Keeping in mind God’s invitation to you in our scripture reading, invite the Holy
Spirit to speak to you through Creation and the things you see along the way.

Be open to noticing the beauty around you.
Listen to the sounds you hear.
What is God talking to you about today?
What does God use to speak to you? It might be a bird, a tree, a stone, a crack in the concrete….the Holy Spirit can speak to you through anything.

Watch for symbols of what God is doing in your life…
Or what God longs to do in your life.

Spend time reflecting on how God is speaking to you through this view or symbol.

Consider writing in your journal about what God showed you. Describe how Jesus revealed Himself to you today through creation.

In a half hour or when the signal calls, please gather with the group.

You can decide how long you want the walk to last. 30 minutes, 45, an hour…
And let people know when they are to meet back together.

When the group is back together, take time to process and share what the Holy Spirit showed people along the way. We would open the time for anyone who wanted to share, but NEVER require people to share.

You can end your time together with a prayer or a song, like the doxology. You might even take communion together, whatever fits your group.

Here is a way to practice doing a PARABLE WALK this in your neighborhood

As you begin your walk, open your hands to receive the gift of the Parable that Jesus has for you today.

As you take a walk around your neighborhood.
Ask Jesus to give you eyes to see and ears to hear.
Ask Jesus to speak to you through the things you see and hear.

Notice the colors around you.
Notice the weather, the clouds, the sky, the trees, plants, birds.

What if you live in an urban neighborhood or where there is lots of construction?

What is God constructing in your life right now?

What is might God be building or remodeling? What needs to be remodeled in your life?
Talk to Jesus about this as you walk.

What about the noise? Is your life feeling too noisy right now? Are you in need of clarity or quiet?

There might be trash, or garbage on your path, or on your walk…what garbage is in you way right now? What junk needs to be removed to make you clean? 
Who has been throwing trash on your path recently? Do you need to have healing in this relationship? Do you need to forgive them? Do you need God’s help to forgive them?
Have you thrown trash on your own path? Have you been doing things to hurt yourself?
Spend some time talking to God/Jesus about this.

In a more suburban area…
Notice the toys in the yards, swings, bikes, basketball hoops. Kids know how to play and find joy in simple things. How are you doing with play or a playful spirit?
Talk to God about this.

How can you add play into your life?
What things bring you joy in you life? Talk to God about this.

Wild flowers, flowers planted …What is God growing in your life? What is being planted?
What would you like Jesus to plant in your life? How does the soil need to be turned, what weeds need to be dug up, what new things do you want to grow?

Do you notice the wind? Do you feel the breeze? Stop and notice the direction of the wind. Ask the Holy Spirit to open you up to new things. Ask the Holy Spirit to revive you as you walk.

What else do you notice on your walk? What else does the Holy Spirit highlight for you?
What else does Jesus show you as you spend time with him on this walk?

As you end your Parable Walk, spend time thanking God for what you’ve seen and heard. Allow this time of noticing to continue in the rest of your day, allowing Jesus to speak to you in the stuff along the way!

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