The Spirit of the Land

After lots of discussion about how to walk, where to walk, what speed to walk, and the meaning and purpose of the walk, our group finally found a place of agreement and a rhythm. Together we realized that it was important to all of us to be able to alternate times on the main roads where we would be visible to passing trucks and the local population, with times on the back roads where we could feel the land and have our own souls nourished by it. By now the mythic sense of our journey has begun to sink in. I have begun to feel the earth under my feet in a deeper way and feel connected to the greater ancestral practice of walking. As we cover individually about 10 miles a day, and collectively, about 20, I am beginning to feel the satisfaction of covering great distance, little by little, on foot. In moments of awe and wonder, I feel such kinship with the ancient ones who knew no other way to travel and those who have practiced pilgrimage through the ages. As my body gets stronger and less challenged by the physical aspects of the long-distances, the act of aligning body, prayer, purpose and action begins to be felt as a great joy. The quiet dialogue within my mind and that dialogue with the elementals all around me, begins to blur and merge as my soul and the soul of the land become one. The morning zazen practice, I believe, helps attune to these energies and open us up to the bigger story of which we are a part. The walking staff, which I felt physically cumbersome at first, has become our loyal companion, ceremonially handed over with a bow, each time Shodo takes a break. I am falling in love with this walking.