We have a prayer path at St. Simeon Skete.
We also had one when we were in Louisville and it was very much a part of our prayer life.
There were a lot of struggles and battles waged at that former path in Louisville, yet it was the biggest source of comfort to a lot of us. Walking onto that Sacred Space felt secure, like climbing up onto the lap of Jesus and taking a big sigh of relief. You could breathe easy there. It has been the one thing we have missed since we moved to the skete.
Later we were excited to find out that John Bradburne the Franciscan, martyred during the war in Zimbabwe, also had a prayer walk he called the Prayer Track up on top of Chigona Mount.
Saying the rosary while walking engages all the senses, the movement, the sights and sounds around you, verbalizing the clauses out loud, breathing the air - it all helps to deepen your prayer, and in the case of the Rosary it deepens the Life of Jesus within you.
But whereas in Louisville the sounds of the city were a palatable hum, here in the rural area they are different - and much to our surprise - much more distracting. Each sound is sharp amplification, like a cracking whip amongst the stillness. We are walking the prayer path amongst the loud trucks that zing past the skete, we are walking amidst the sporadic gunfire of the hunters and/or the constant string of gunfire from the neighbors' several personal firing ranges. Sometimes it sounds like a war zone. And then during the week, while their owners are at work - its the dogs. One set of dogs begins to bark which entices another set and the barking rolls on and on. At times, this place is the loudest place we've ever been.
But - the prayer continues as we dig deeper into it, and continue to walk the path. The statue of Mary is situated in such a way here at the Skete Prayer Path so that her gaze is not on us, it tenderly looks steadily and intently at the path - the only way you can be in her gaze is if you kneel. In this way, she is reminding us to continue in the path of her Son's life (The Rosary) all the while she is with us, in union with us in that prayer. "Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy." -NLT Deut. 5:33
I don't know what kind of "gunfire", "yapping dogs", or "road noises" are out there trying to distract you from your focus on God today. But I do know that they are out there and they want to distract you. I also know that Jesus is bigger than any of our struggles, any of our pain and that his Mother is with us, gently nodding for us to stay on the path. "But as for you, be strong and don't get discouraged, for your work will be rewarded." -2nd Chronicles 15:7 And while you are out there deflecting distractions, know that we are here doing the same all the while keeping each other in prayer. You us and we you. God bless you.
And besides.... "the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on".