A walk on the Galloping Goose Trail has become more than a form of exercise….it is a journey to a sacred place.
Almost every day, I take a walk on the Galloping Goose Trail. Most often, it’s my power walk, a variable speed quick walk, with arms pumping, and extending in various directions, as I do my arm exercises at the same time. Sometimes, though, it’s a more sociable walk, with a friend, a slower pace, companionable. My Goose walk (no relation to goose step!) has become a significant ritual in my life.
Some days, my walk may be the only time I get out of the house and away from my desk, so this routine encompasses my exercise quotient, my daily dose of serotonin and melatonin, my amusement and recreation period, my group interaction moments, and my intimate glimpses of the natural world (in August the blackberries are lush; in April, robins sing their spring song, and in January eagles sit in treetops beside the trail, croaking their squeaky-clothes-line call, their heads bright white against the sky).
I’ve realized recently that the Galloping Goose is, for me, a sacred place. It includes repetition of ritual, like the little pat I always give to the “25 K.” marker beside the trail, my usual turnaround spot. It is a place of transformation, where I walk and talk with my husband Russ, my arm through his, solving a crisis in my class one year, making decisions about cancer treatment the next.
The trail is often my place of meditation, where I have offered the Buddhist Triple Healing Mantra and other prayers repeatedly when family members were in hospital after accidents, strokes, falls, or fighting serious illness.
I have a thankfulness rock alongside the trail overlooking my neighbour’s pasture. It’s where I have another little ritual: my daily moment of giving thanks, as I look out over the sheep, the green expanse of grass, the hills beyond.
The Trail is a place that encourages simplicity and attentiveness, where I count the quail family as they scurry across in front of me, hear the blackbirds singing beside me, or smile at the rabbits darting into the brambles.
It is a meditative place for being alone, yet a place where I can feel a spark of communion with people who walk by and greet me, or exchange a few words. We are on the same path, even when we’re walking in opposite directions.
Often, I start my walk by hiking up to my hut, look at the hills beyond, listen to the chimes and birds, then carry on, across and down the hill to the Goose, turn left at the “23 K.” marker, on for two more km., then back and on to the mailboxes, get the mail, walk home. The Trail is an opportunity for finding the sacred in everyday life.
All photo © Star Weiss
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