On Sunday my man took me to Well Within Spa in Santa Cruz to soak my aching muscles and feet. (Is he a keeper or what!?) Every second in the hot water soothed my body while my mind reflected on the 17 miles I had walked for peace the day before.
I was invited to join the third annual Peace Walk hosted by the San Mateo County Gang Unit and John Malloy who I met through the Native American 500 Mile Run. This walk was to honor the way of non-violence and welcome home those men and young men who are working to transition their lives away from a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and gangs.
As John put it, “The walk is part of transitioning and summoning courage to change. The inspiration for this walk comes from some of us working with the Jericho Project and watching multitudes of former incarcerated men thirst for meaningful social and emotional change. We know it is possible to achieve a sense of inner peace and freedom after a harsh, violent past. Humans have an amazing capacity for change. Former inmates and addicts can learn to accept responsibility for their serious crimes.”
The walk started out in Marin County across the water from San Quentin prison. Takashi Tanemori was among the honored guests in attendance. Briefly, Takashi is a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He came to America to avenge his father’s death and eventually found that forgiveness was more powerful and useful to him than vengeance. His story is worth exploring in more detail so if you have a minute, instead of reading the latest celebrity gossip website do your mind a favor and go to Takashi’s website to read something real!
After the opening ceremony we walked single file, in silence, for the first mile. Then we continued the walk just north of Fairfax and walked all the way to Olema, near Point Reyes. We walked 3 mile stretches at a time, stopping only briefly to rehydrate.
It was a hot day and you know me, I’m fair skinned so not only did I have a ton of sunscreen on, I wore a long sleeved microfiber shirt, my long yoga pants and a big ol’ hat so I could avoid sunburn at all costs!!! The last thing I wanted was to cut my participation short because of a severe sunburn!
One of the goals of this walk was to share stories and get to know one another. It was great to swap stories and some of the conversation got pretty deep. I learned a lot from those I already knew and I learned even more from those I just met. I was honored that people shared their stories with me, especially the men from the Jericho Project who are trying to start their lives anew without drugs, alcohol and violence. Their willpower to work for a peaceful future for themselves is strong, it inspires and humbles me.
We all wore Peace Walk t-shirts and a few carried signs so the public would know what we were doing. We had a lot of support from people driving by, a lot of waves, smiles and peace signs! There was one negative response from someone driving by, but it didn’t slow us down at all.
At one point a woman asked us what we were protesting. When one of my fellow walkers, Bobbe, told her we weren’t protesting anything, we were promoting peace and non-violence, the woman looked confused. I know we gave her something to think about.
Around mile 9 I was starting to feel the impact of the walk on my body! My feet weren’t sore but my hips were starting to ache from the impact. By the end of the walk my feet were tired, my hips ached and strangely, my collarbones had started to hurt. I didn’t get a single blister on my feet because another walker lent me a pair of her toe socks to wear under my regular socks. These prevented my toes from rubbing directly against each other and boy did they work! I’m grateful to Mia for her thoughtfulness because, looking back, I would have had a harder time without those magic socks!
The walk took most of the day and we made it to the campground before the sun set to talk about what we had just experienced and then ate dinner. Joe Leonor (detective and probation officer), his wife Monica and crew did a phenomenal job cooking for us. They provided breakfast, water, snacks, a great lunch, impressive dinner and amazing breakfast for everyone. It was a lot of work but they pulled it off smiling!
My man took pictures of the event and when I got to camp he had already set up our tent. Listen people, my idea of roughing it is a Best Western and only using a carryon sized piece of luggage! I haven’t slept in a tent or “camped” since I was a little girl. So I had NO idea what to bring to stay overnight in a tent. But guess what? I survived and it was fun! Laugh if you will but that was a new experience for me!
Today I walked another 4 miles to keep the memory of the Peace Walk close to me. My first steps for peace on Saturday will not be my last.