Walking back to happiness

The Revd Susannah Reide

One of the things I have noticed recently, is the elevated value of the humble walk with a friend.

For me, one of the most challenging things about the first lockdown was the social isolation and so I have been very relieved that this lockdown, we are still able to meet - socially distanced - with one other person for exercise. This has made a huge difference to the bearability of other restrictions.

In a recent Sunday Zoom conversation with a congregation over the river from SMV, different people described the walks they had taken that weekend, and who they had met. It turned out that several of us had bumped into the same couple near Christchurch Meadow at different times, and it began to feel as if we had all, intermittently and unintentionally, been on an interconnected walk together.

I also notice that, due to limited daylight hours and routes around Cowley, I almost always bump into someone I know when I am out walking. Oxford feels more like a village than ever. Recently someone asked what I was doing on my day off; and my answer was, “Going for a walk with a friend - this is as good as it gets at the moment.” 

And there is a war-time flavour to things, with our health workers giving their all on the front lines, while civilians like me try to help by complying with restrictions for the greater good.

As we return to our online university life this Hilary Term, I am noticing the longer term effects of protracted social isolation. People are struggling to stay motivated as they continue to work from their bedrooms. Some students are desperate to return to live in Oxford; others are relieved to have left.

So I see the humble walk as one of our greatest strengths at this time. A way to connect with a friend and with our wider community. Happy walking!