On Sundays, almost every Sunday morning, I go hiking with my friend Jenn.

We have a steady little cycle now, 5 or so local trails we rotate through. We hike for 3-4 hours, usually. That’s the time we have, and then we have to move on to the other parts of our Sunday. The grocery shopping or family time or naps or chores or social events or whatever it is.

We call it hiking church.

We both grew up in evangelical Christianity and subsequently left it as adults. So hiking is our church, and let me tell you: We preach to each other out there. It is therapeutic, it is uplifting, it is relieving, it is connecting, it is healing. We take turns sharing what’s on our minds. Work stuff, relationship stuff, parenting stuff, family, life, anxiety, friendship, whatever. Three or four hours gives you a lot of time to talk things through. Usually about halfway through the hike we move from sharing about our personal lives to a bigger discussion. About the world, culture, the future, psychology, politics, the environment, religion, hilarious ideas for skits we could do if we had the time and energy. The important stuff.

Hiking church is special. It’s an important weekly tradition now. It gives me space to process the week with someone trustworthy, and that in turn helps me feel ready to roll into the week ahead. I’m a big fan of routines because they help us protect what nurtures and supports us. The world is full of urgency. These hikes, in the woods, are full of peace.