Having a physical connection to the earth at all times--remaining constantly and consciously grounded both physically and mentally--was the most relaxing few minutes I've had in a long time, and I felt more spiritually nourished with every step. But when I returned to the cement pathways on our way back to class, my soles felt like they were on fire. The asphalt and cement were sharp, angry, and biting; I only made it a few steps before I had to put my sandals back on. Then, as I kept walking, my cool feet felt like they had been massaged, and they had--by the earth. It reaffirmed for me the comfort that nature can provide when we don't approach it as something to be tamed and conquered. It also reminded me of the alienation that urban, concrete spaces inspire in me, and where I'd much rather be.
Afterward, I also thought about how silence had functioned within this activity. I think there are two kinds of people: those who are unnerved by silence, and those who will happily wrap themselves in it like a warm blanket. I'm the latter kind. Given permission to be silent--to quiet the anxious classroom thoughts of "Am I talking too much? Too little? Is what I'm saying even contributing to the class?"--was a welcome relief, and allowed for a few valuable minutes for recharging. Though we often use "silence" as a negative concept within Women's Studies, I think it's equally available to be a healing and comforting concept, and it was that aspect of it that I embraced on our walk.