Yesterday was the 50th day of my 100 day walking practice, as good a time as any to reflect on where I was, where I am and where I will be.
I’ve walked 535 miles (861 km). I’ve walked in the snow and the rain. I’ve slogged through the mud and slipped on the ice. I’ve seen dozens of deer and even a coyote. I’ve watched an ice covered river thaw and rise out of its banks. Each day I walk to the same places I’ve never walked in before.
Change builds on change.
My body grows stronger and along with it my determination to see this thing through. But a demanding weariness creeps in more often, a fatigue which only deep sleep can abate.
Walking for hours body and mind become focused on just the next step, the next mantra, the next place. And then, for an instant, emptiness and they all disappear; the sleepwalker awakens for only a second.
One day when winter was still here I saw the body of a dead deer. I felt pointed sadness when I imagined her death. But seeing the other creatures who took nourishment from her body at a time when food was so scarce, I was glad for their deliverance from hunger; compassion for both prey and predator.
There is a white pine on my route. It reminds me of me – old, showing signs of decay, lost its foliage on top, but still sturdy. We take time out to encourage each other.
Along the path is a cemetery. I stop and chant the Heart Sutra wondering what “Reverend Laura” who rests there would think of my practice. I stand by the remains of gentle George who died two years ago this past weekend, thinking of how his wife must miss him. I wonder if I will end up here some day.
Some days my path takes me through our little town. I know just about everyone I see; not just their names, but also their troubles and triumphs. I wave to them all and they wave back at me. Interdependence isn’t just a concept here, we truly live with each other. Compassion abounds.
I am part of the landscape not its observer. And my journey has just begun.