Seasons Gleanings: the gentle art of discovery that is revealed through long distance walking, allowing one to experience the seasons with each step forward.
Walking for the past three months from London to Jerusalem allows for a gradual traveling through time and space. A slow unraveling or revealing. I am able to experience the changing seasons in the landscape.
I am able to observe and discover the passing landscape and the landscape of my thoughts at a slower pace.
Walking is such a simple activity yet can provide profound insights through its simple movement. Walking is an action, and often when one feels stuck in our thoughts, walking away from thought whether it be for solving a problem, moving away from an arguement or to clear one’s mind, walking can be highly effective.
Walking long distances and over a long period of time can also allow for great shifts in one’s life. These shifts may not always be seismic shifts, but more, like the act of walking, more gentle, subtle. It is more of a gleaning.
Movement takes us to different places both physically and mentally simply because of itself. It allows us to have view new perspectives and these have the power to transform.
Along our journey in Greece I witnessed something I hadn’t known before – gleaning. A woman was gleaning in a corn field that had just been harvested.
Gleaning is the custom of gathering the remains of a harvest after the crop had been harvested. Often there are missed pieces of fruit still hanging on a tree. An olive tree may have been shook but there are still some olives hanging.
A field of corn may have been harvested but some of the ears of corn may have been missed. Gleaning allowed for the poor, widows, orphans, the elderly or those who have little or no means to support themselves and have no other means of survival.
Gleaning is mentioned in a number of passages in the Old Testament of the Bible including Leviticus 19:9 which says:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.
Walking similarly provides food for our souls. This food is gathered slowly, like grains of wheat left in the field providing us with spiritual sustenance.
It is about patience and compassion, allowing learnings to be discovered and revealed bit by bit…slowly.
Walking encourages gleaning. It also creates leaning. With each bit of information that we learn it takes us potentially in a new direction, leans us into new worlds, new thoughts, new ideas.
Walking has allowed me to experience the seasons. Not in a passing thought as one rushes to and from work and our busy lives, but as a slow and studied passing.
It is the seasoning, it adds and enhances the flavours of life, gives it its richness, enlivens the senses.
Seasons Are A Changing
I have had the time to traverse the landscape and time to see fields of green wheat, golden wheat, harvested fields of stubble, and ploughed and fallow fields.
I have experienced the changing season as we enter autumn. The goosebump chill at night time, progressing to stiff finger chilly mornings, and having to wear a light long sleeve shirt, jacket and beany. The skies have become grey and rains more frequent as I walk along.
Underfoot dry paths turn to squelching mud. Cold wet feet turn white and wrinkled. Trees turn from green to fiery reds, yellows, oranges and then brown. I hear the crunch of dead leaves with each step in a forest.
Walking along the Aegean coast being the end of the tourist season, I notice cafes and hotels closed, looking forlorn and deserted. Bee keepers are getting their hives ready for the cold weather ahead as pollen levels drop with the scarcity of flowers.
My senses come alive with the changing seasons.
With each step I experience change, a slow revealing, seasons gleanings.