Melbourne News

Walking with God in nature: Merri Creek serenity

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Peter Saunders (Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality) 
 
It was overcast when 12 of us met at CERES Cafe in Brunswick to begin our Prayer Day Walk along Merri Creek on Saturday, 9 September. The Being with God in Nature Ministry at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality offers a number of Prayer Day Walks around the outskirts of Melbourne and this was the first time we offered one in the inner city of Melbourne.
 
 
The trail is a well-made, easy walk that follows the meandering Merri Creek. Of the 12 participants, 8 had not been on a Prayer Day Walk before. We walked 6km along the creek to the Coburg Lake where we had lunch, before returning to our meeting point.

One of the key aspects of the walk is to slow down and let go of the business of our lives. So we walked in silence along the creek. Participants spoke afterwards of the silence being ‘enjoyable, rare and comforting.’ One walker remarked that it ‘allows me to hear God.’

We took our time, allowing participants to absorb the variety of trees and plants along the creek, witness the different wattle trees in flower and appreciate the changing flow of Merri Creek.

‘There’s wonderful variety, sounds, colour and trees,’ said a participant, ‘I loved the creek running by and the little things like the tiny but precious flowers.’

This is not a walk of achievement; it is a walk of contemplation. Some commented that they initially found the slow walking a challenge but by the time they were walking back they appreciated the slower pace.

We stopped at Coburg Lake for an hour at lunch. Most chose to keep the silence and found a quiet place along the creek to stop and be still. It is in the stillness that we can encounter God more deeply, ‘be still and know that I am God.’

All appreciated the chance for a quiet time in nature. It was a time for reflection, a beautiful, peaceful walk in the middle of suburbia. It’s also an opportunity to take time out of our daily lives and to connect with nature and oneself.

‘The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dew drop, in a poor person’s face,'  - Pope Francis, 2015
 
The next Walking with God in Nature Prayer Day will be along the Bass Coastal Walk 28 Saturday October - www.campion.asn.au/nature
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