From apps to labyrinths, walking gained as a spiritual tool in COVID-19 crisis

by | Jul 26, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — For years, at 9:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month, Mark Hutchinson could usually be found at the edge of the city of Sheffield, England, about to embark into the countryside with a dozen others — mostly people of color — for a three-hour walk.“It’s part of our very specific aim that the countryside should be open to people, whatever their race or gender, sexuality, disability, mental health awareness,” Hutchinson told Religion News Service about the group — originally called Black Men Walking, now Walk4Health — when it was formed in 2003. After decades of walks, the core members became as close as some family members.
But just as Britain’s pandemic shutdowns began, Hutchinson, 62, was diagnosed with cancer. The walks were often canceled, and he rarely felt well enough to go. After days of praying and asking God how to cope with the diagnosis, one answer came in the form of two members of his longtime walking group.
“I still wanted to do walking and I didn’t know whether I would be up for walking with the group. But I felt that I could turn to both of my close colleagues and walk with them.”
Hutchinson, raised Anglican, said his close friends aren’t religious, but for him their shorter walks have …

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