Footsteps are Prayers
Legs are not lips. Walking is not kneeling. Yet even without spoken words, walking can be worship and legs can sing and pray.
In this way, Rabbi Abraham Heschel marched with thousands of people who believed that African Americans had the right to vote. Armed with prayer and federal protection, these peaceful demonstrators arrived at the capitol steps in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965. The group, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, had walked 54 miles in five days.
For the rabbi whose passion was prayer, the march was not a political event. It was a spiritual outcry which could have been voiced by the biblical prophets. The prophets condemned the dishonor of men who were made in God’s image since this dishonored their Creator. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and Micah all decried social injustice. The prayers of the demonstrators in 1965 were similar.
Like the prophets who walked in the land of Israel and exile, we can pray as we walk. Tefillah, the word for prayer, means to judge oneself. Our walking can be a form of healthy judgment and focused prayer.
Published February 8, 2017