I’m in Calgary. Yesterday I drove for 13 hours to get here, and tomorrow I’ll be awake very early in the morning to start the three day walk.

This commitment is not for the faint-of-heart. Right from the moment I said to Cath “I want to walk with you,” I’ve know that it would require a lot of me. First I had to take the risk to say to someone (whom I’d never met in person), “your story – the loss of baby Juggernaut – has touched a vulnerable place in me and the only way I know how to respond is to drive half-way across the country to walk 100 kilometres with you.”

Then I had to commit the time to drive across the country, the time to train for all this walking, the agony of a dozen or more blisters on my feet, the cost of driving here, the time to fundraise and promote the Kidney Raffle, the cost of new shoes, socks, and blister-prevention aids, and, last but not least, the emotional energy to care about and offer compassion into other people’s stories.

No, it’s not for the faint-of-heart.

Lest you think me an altruistic do-gooder, though, let me admit… there’s a part of me that is doing this for entirely selfish reasons. For one thing, for an adventure-loving wanderer like me, it doesn’t take much to convince me to travel anywhere. Driving 13 hours across the prairies all by myself? Delightful. What’s not to like? Especially when I get to stop at dusk for photos like this one:

But there are other, deeper reasons.

Reasons like these:

– It’s a pilgrimage. Walking for hours and hours feels holy to me. It’s sacred time, when I find those “thin places” that the Celts talk about, where the veil between God and me gets thinner than usual.

– It’s a time to connect deeply with beautiful people whose stories already have special niches in the corners of my heart. We will have deep and honest conversations and we will change each other.

– It’s a vision quest. I know that the deep meditation of putting one foot in front of another for three days in a row will bring clarity and revelation to me that will surprise and challenge me. It will be yet another journey that will help reveal to me my unique medicine in the world.

– It’s part of my personal search for beauty in the world. We will walk in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world, with the Rocky Mountains always at the edge of our vision. Beauty opens me – it cleans me.

– It will challenge me – push me to the edge of my endurance. I honestly don’t know if I can finish 100 km. After walking 32 in training, my feet felt like they were ready to give up on life. I am interested in seeing how I will handle this challenge, and I know that if I conquer it, I will feel invincible.

– The connection with Cath and her story will re-connect me with my own story of personal transformation through baby-loss. For three days, I will be remembering Matthew, whose 11th birthday/death-day is coming up on September 27th, and little Juggernaut, whose 1st birthday/death-day is only a few weeks later.

And so you see, the commitment is worth it. Yes, there will be moments of pure pain and exhaustion, but I know the experience will change me and I’m ready to be changed.

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