My brother Rick exited his car on a pitch-black night in an unfamiliar rural area. He was searching for a hidden place to urinate. As he walked, his foot slipped, and he tumbled thirty feet down a deep cliff. He broke his foot in many places. His screams brought rescue and he endured a long painful journey from surgeries, to wheelchair, to walker, and back to walking. That was six years ago.
Today, Rick awoke in an Albergue in Spain, pulled on his compression socks, then hiking boots, then heavy backpack and headed out on his daily trek of the Camino de Santiago. He averages about twenty miles walking each day and is half-way through the 500-mile journey. Rick has friendly brown eyes, a big smile and loves engaging with the other pilgrims on the way. One day he left us a message saying that he keeps meeting many of the same people on the road and “just like in our big family growing up, there is plenty of laughter, love and annoyances.” Rick has been spontaneously picking people in the family to dedicate each day’s walk on his five-week trek. When he picked me, I felt honored and touched by his expansive heart. Everyone looks forward to the day we might get chosen and get to feel this connection with Rick. Some days he walks in honor of a beloved person or ancestor, some days he does not. We never know who he will choose or when. Today he picked my sister, Cefe. I could hear the crunch of his boots under his feet as he left us an audio and talked about his love for her. Then Cefe revealed that a few weeks ago she had written a poem on her thoughts of being picked.
Don’t pick my name
On an easy day
Save it for the day
You don’t think you can finish your way.
But with strength and bravery - you do,
And the sky will be a brighter blue.
Take that walk, through adversity
Take that walk for you
Take that walk for me. *
The Camino is a physically challenging, spiritual quest that people take to wrest demons, to find inspiration, and to re-connect to a deeper louder drumming of their core soul self. I love that Cefe contemplated the beauty of that struggle, a struggle we all walk.
*poem by Cefe Hyatt