My usual hiking partner is on vacation, so I hiked with another friend this past Friday. We went to a spot in the Gila wilderness that is special for this friend because her daughter, who was killed in an accident more than a dozen years ago, used to love visiting this place. My friend hadn’t been out there in a couple of years, and brought along some dried roses as a memorial.
As we walked—often clambering over large rocks—my friend shared stories of her daughter’s life and journey. She also showed me where some other couple had, years ago, marked the pathway with stones and had their wedding in this beautiful spot. Many of the pathway rocks have been dislodged over time, but it’s still pretty easy to see how the path meanders and follow it over the rocks.
It was a beautiful day for a walk, with clear blue skies and a cool breeze. We saw a number of stunning vistas and captivating natural beauty, as well as points where plants were struggling to survive against the odds, or had given up the fight and become elegant skeletons.
At one point she found a heart-shaped rock that reminded her of a story. At another point, I captured a number of angles of a tree that had, over the years, been bent perpendicular to the ground. I found myself thinking that it was doing a type of dance with the ground. Since my friend’s daughter was a dancer, that image flowed easily into my mind.
Most of all, this day was a gift of memory. My friend’s stories brought to mind some of my own, and together we wove a new pattern, which we left—invisible but nonetheless present—amongst the rocks. We experienced gratitude and amazement, and sometimes blinked back tears. She brought back her heart-shaped rock, and I brought back a couple dozen photos on my phone.
When in your life has a stroll turned into a memory walk? Did you go with an agenda? What unfolded? What did you find, and share? What did you bring back?
Is there a memory walk you need to take?