Friday, November 29, 2019

Spiritual Healing On ... And Off ... The Appalachian Trail

The passing of my Camino friend Gv three Novembers ago today affected me deeply.  The depression I sank into led me to end my first Appalachian Trail (AT) attempt after only a week.  My 2019 AT attempt was another try at the spiritual healing I was seeking.

The path to healing.
The Appalachian Trail did not give me the healing I was looking for.  For six months I ran the events of my two Caminos and of late 2016 over and over in my head.  Spiritually, along the one thousand eight hundred and ninety-four miles portion of the trail that I hiked, I oscillated from comfort and melancholy but in the end I felt little change.

Then I came home.  In 2011, on my first Camino, I met a woman on her second Camino.  We talked about searching for epiphanies along the way to Santiago de Compostela.  She said something that stuck with me.  The epiphanies do not come while you are going through your ordeal.  They come after you return home and have time to process what you've gone through. 

It's been two months since I returned from my second AT attempt and I now realize that things have in fact changed.  Before the AT, when thinking back to my time with Gv on the Camino, my thought were always grey and a bit sad.  I realize now, after my six month walking meditation, that now my thoughts of those times are filled with smiles, laughs, and all the good times we had being pilgrims.

I still miss my Camino friend and the sadness of her passing will never totally go away, but now those feelings take a backseat to the happy moments we shared and I am a better man because of it.   If that isn't spiritual healing, I don't know what is.

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