By nature, its unique approach to guiding souls toward healing, The Wilderness Walk offers a path less traveled. But do not think that this is a prescribed path, complete with a trail map and prescheduled rest breaks. Rather, it is a daring adventure. For each walker, the journey is our own. MY path less traveled is different from that of my tribemates. My issues are my own, my road to wholeness requires attention to the areas most meaningful for me. We each carry our own walking stick, designed by us to carry us, personally, through the brambles of the pain from our past.
That does not mean it is a solitary journey. Indeed, I would not be who I am today embracing my heart, open to the rich experience of life, letting go of the stories that have held me back without the love and support of my fellow Wilderness Walkers. Consider them the trail crew: providing constant nurturing, water, and blister repair. Their support, their ability to bring up issues that I hadn’t seen, to care for me as I faced my fears, and to join me in healing the broken hearts we’d collectively experienced, was undoubtedly the richest part of my Wilderness Walk experience.
In fact, the most important treasure I carry from my walk is this: The messages from my beloved tribemates, which came in Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, and in person, over and over again: I hear you. I SEE you. Me, too. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Did you get the part about I love you? At first, it stopped me in my tracks. Hearing this from a tribe of strangers felt inauthentic. What?! How can you love me? You don’t know me; how can you love ME? Let me tell you, in fact, why you shouldn’t.
As the Wilderness Walk progressed, we forged through important issues: guilt, anger, sadness, forgiveness, and shame it was rocky terrain and we kept a fast pace. But we were a committed tribe, and as we ventured farther down the trail, I found that the stories of why I was so unlovable became just that: stories. Thoughts swirling in my head, making meaning where there wasn’t any, from past experiences, past hurts. And no matter what I shared with my tribe, what transgression, what trauma, I kept hearing it: I see you. I love you.
I don’t know the moment it happened, when my heart melted, but it stopped sounding so foreign. When I came to hear I love you without questioning it. When I came to understand, to know, to stand strong in knowing that, yes, my tribemates love me because I AM inherently lovable. Did you know that? That you are inherently lovable? Yes, you are. Yes, I am.
The journey is far from over; one key learning is the knowledge that my entire life has been a journey, which has led me here, to where I go next. And I won’t, I don’t, go alone. My tribe stands with me, and I with them.
My path less traveled brought me on a solo inner quest with a group of daring, loving individuals. My path less traveled meant creating my own trail map, while learning to lean on others for support and encouragement. And my path less traveled brought me back to my heart and to love. Where will your path take you?
Walker- Northern California