This Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of an event that forever changed our world. It most certainly changed mine.
On that day, I was in Lebanon visiting with my family after the death of my grandmother. I had just finished the Camino in northern Spain a month earlier, walking the 800 kilometres with an intention to find direction in my life, knowing only that I wanted to do something for peace. I had quit my corporate job, thrown on a backpack, and just started traveling. From Egypt to Turkey to Greece to Italy to France…they all hinted at what my life could look like, but it was the Camino that finally defined it. Through a series of incredible coincidences, I decided I would walk for peace along the Way of the Soul, a path more mystical than physical, to Jerusalem.
I felt inspired, ready to start right away. On the Camino, everything seems possible; but away from it, ever so slowly, it all just seemed like one big crazy idea. I mean, come on, a woman walking alone along the side of the road to Jerusalem? As much as my heart was calling me to do it, my fears were equally as loud in stopping me.
So I listened to my fears…until those attacks.
They galvanized me into action; and not because I suddenly had no fears. They were still there, but at that moment, contributing something constructive to peace seemed to me more important than my fears. The fates brought into my path all that I needed to begin walking, including a Spanish man named Alberto, who would join me on this Walk and also forever change my life .
There are so many events going on to commemorate 9/11. One that I especially like is the Walk for Humankind. I considered organizing one here in Ottawa, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that yes, I want to walk on that day, but that I want the moments of that walk to be inner-focused. I don’t want to carry banners or shout the message of peace to the world, but rather reconnect with that feeling of peace within me, truly feel it, embrace it, and then once again bring it into my seemingly-mundane, everyday world.
That was perhaps the grandest teaching of my walk to Jerusalem, and one whose nuances and implications I still experiment with. Ultimately, my walk for peace had nothing to do with Jerusalem, and everything to do with what I carried with me and offered to that divided land. That’s why all journeys are sacred, for they all inevitably lead to the same destination: the inner.
I invite you to go on that inner walk that day.