Have you done a walking reflection? I need to do them more often.

For the past few days, I was in an orientation at Creighton University for an interdisciplinary leadership doctorate program that I am beginning. One of our activities was a walking reflection. We were to select a question that was on our mind and then walk across campus in silence, noticing sounds, sights, and what we heard as we reflected on our question. My question: Am I on the right path?

Walking Reflection: Am I on the Right Path?

As I started my walk, there is an artistic flame with the words “Go Set the World on Fire.” About a third way into my walk, I noticed a young man walking toward me. He was dressed in a modern blue suit, pressed white shirt, and red tie. What was more noticeable was the backpack behind him and a leather briefcase at his side. He had a stride of being on a mission, heading into an urban battle. He had the spirited pace of setting the world on fire.

Soon after, an older gentleman was strolling toward me, dressed in an expensive-looking suit with a business-looking trench coat dangling on his arm. His eyes conveyed a sense of calm success but little fire. No briefcase or backpack; his work seemed done.

As I walked further, I entered St. John’s and sat in the back. I noticed a red light by the altar, and my first reaction was that it must be a security light, a sign of the times. A few moments later, it then dawned on me that it was an eternal candle, a light that never burns out.

I want to carry both a backpack and a briefcase. To me, they represent the need to learn while doing the work. Growth endures from this intersection.


In my reflection, I put together the answer to my question. I don’t want to lose the spirit of my past years, and I want to carry both a backpack and a briefcase. To me, they represent the need to learn while doing the work. Growth endures from this intersection. Although a restful stride sounds nice at times, I want to pursue rather than stroll. My walk began with a call to set the world on fire and, in the midpoint, an eternal flame. I believe that if I continue on my path that my spirit will be lit through what I learn and then apply. Maybe, just maybe, my spirited light will shine for a little while longer after my presence disappears.

We chose our paths, and we need to select one that ignites our mind and spirit. No matter our generation, we need to reflect as it empowers a necessary self-awareness. Self-awareness renews while stirs an excitement of what we can do better.

A Community Walking Reflection: Are We on the Right Path?

For very different reasons, we see the stirred souls of our youth. In Florida, our youth experienced a traumatic shooting and, unfortunately, they are not the first. Young or old, no one should have to experience the rampage of an individual armed with a weapon that serves little purpose outside of war. When the kids heard the hollow words of adults, “thoughts and prayers” became a rallying point. Words said too often with no action of change lose their meaning.

Our young adults chose a path of raising their voices, stating that enough is enough and this problem needs to be addressed now. On March 24th, many, including me, will join the March for Our Lives.

What’s the connection between our youthful generation and my reflective walk?

Our generational stroll through life is no longer good enough. Our constant inaction in leaving problems unsolved is not cutting it. There are other possibilities, other paths. We need to begin to stir our moral imaginations on what we can – and should – be doing to creating a better and safer place with better economics and better character than what we currently have.

We have so much work to do. Our business leaders are waking up to this fact. Delta, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, REI, and others are stepping up to change what they can, raising the age to who they will sell guns to and how much with they will support the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, our political leaders demonstrate more self-interest than doing what is right for the greater good.

When we consider the greater good, the issues are not just about gun control, better gun laws that limit access, or the need to perform thorough background checks, what about mental health issues? Our ideal of the greater good expands.

Sure, the immediate tax cuts may be nice, but how will they help the next generation with the current deficits and debt? We are leaving big financial potholes for future generations. We implement short-term feel good over longer term greater good.

What about our failing roads, bridges, and technology infrastructure? We can make investments that create a better society and a smarter one.

stir our soulsWhat about immigration? Unaddressed policies create tensions that we do not need for the kids born here. Diversity is our strength, and we need find ways to embrace it for our greater good.

What about our character? We can say enough with how disparaging certain leaders have gotten, talking and tweeting about other human beings in ways most parents would disapprove. Our kids sound more intelligent and act with greater integrity, much more than our adults.

We need to wait for the next election, but we cannot count on others to vote. All able citizens have a responsibility to vote. We need to re-find our better spirit and “Go Set the World on Fire” with good works and good words.

Another path exists. Another possibility exists.

As a community, we need to take a reflective walk with the following question: Are we on the right path?

As you walk and reflect in silence, look at the people around you and notice what’s in their eyes. Note the diversity and observe how they are walking. Is it with purpose and a spirit of engagement?

Hear the sounds or the silence and listen to what speaks within you. Think about your work and your attitude. How it is helping future generations? How is it helping right now?

At the end of your reflective walk, gather a group and share. Listen and act with a reflective spirit. Let’s begin to restore our public spirit of doing to create a better legacy, a better community. It will not get better until we answer the question with humility, honesty, and selflessness.

Are we on the right path?


Photos by Jon Mertz, 2018, Creighton University