When I was young and far more athletic than I can even dream to be now—I was a runner.  I was light and fast and my agility shined in sports, specifically basketball, football and track and field.  Beyond my days of competitive sports I continued to run several times a week.  I run no more—a combination of age related issues keep this from being a reality for me.  I still attempt to walk every day and have a

fit bit which helps me track my step count—on days like yesterday however, I do not walk, I Saunter.  Sauntering is a much slower version of walking.  Somewhere between crawling and walking I suppose. 

Henry David Thoreau in an essay on walking explains the origins of the word “saunter.”  He says the term comes from the Middle Ages, when wandering pilgrims would beg for alms to finance their journey to the Holy Land.  Such people became known as “saint-terrers,” or “saunterers.”  I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his explanation but I like the explanation.  I am a “saunterer” a wandering pilgrim, begging for grace, slowly making my own way to the city of God.  Hurray for Sauntering!  The dictionary defines it “to wander or walk about idly and in a leisurely or lazy manner; to lounge; to stroll; to loiter.”  That’s me on quite a few days—in no particular hurry taking time to actually see the world around me.  This is one of the few reasons I chose to migrate from Philadelphia to Lancaster County. 

After living for 30 years in Philadelphia the pervasive sense of hurry affected and sometime infected me.  At times everyone seemed to be in a hurry and to accent this I witnessed my share of speed walkers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, and racing bikes.   So much of life was lived in a hurry or on wheels of one sort or another.  So many people in our world today seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere, running off to this and that.  The frantic pace effects more than schedules…. it can impact the soul. 

When I get caught up in the frantic push, the pressure to do many things quickly, eventually I find myself needing to back off and Saunter again.  This permission to “Saunter” grows out of the conviction that all things are of God.”  Oh, for sure we must pursue God and His will for us with all our hearts, but it is rest and peace to know that every aspect of our pilgrimage is in God’ hands.  He has freed us from past sin and guilt and is presently freeing us from its power.  Our destiny does not ride on anything we have done or fail to do here on earth—but rather rests on the work of Him who is faithful to the end.  Thomas Merton once said just go for walks, live in peace, let change come quietly and invisibly on the inside.”  I find those word fortifying. 

It’s been my experience, that whatever changes take place in me, are fairly slow, occurring in some secret or hidden part of me.  In times of failure it may seem that I am not making progress at all—and I can slip back into old patterns in my life.  The path to change can be excruciatingly slow.  But in the meantime I Saunter toward my home in heaven, and I can join others in their own pilgrimage alongside of me.  I can take every occasion to listen, to love, and to pray, knowing that I don’t have to rush about and make things happen. 

God himself has prepared good works for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).  And so I Saunter onward until one day the sun will shine more brightly than ever I could imagine—for someday our Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings(Malachi 4:2).  And we shall settle into a perfect pace—in the most perfect place. 

He told me to tell you!


Pastor Robert Zimmerman