This morning I woke up to beautiful sunshine (something I crave after this year’s long winter in the Northwest) as I venture out for my last walk on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail. I planned my trek to include my favorite segment that gives the loveliest view of the ocean, but also takes me past the local coffee shop for a venti decaf (my favorite treat!). Today as I have in the past, I also try a new part of the trail finding lush greens and spring flowers in bloom. I’m feeling ecstatic, as this is the weekend of my youngest child’s graduation from college.

 

As I reflect on the past 4 years, I realize that these walks have been a powerful source of healing for me. I remember initially the mixed awareness of both sadness in realizing my son would be so far away from home, yet excitement that he was getting a basketball scholarship to a terrific school. I had no idea the next 4 years would take me through some of my most difficult and tumultuous times of my life- the loss of my nephew, my daughter’s mental illness, my mother’s worsening dementia, my son’s injuries and many surgeries that would keep him from the game he loved, and multiple health issues of my own.  But having the opportunity to visit him in this breathtaking place became a blessed gift.

 

During these early morning trail walks I prayed, I cried, I processed, I listened, I walked fast, I walked slow, and I inhaled the crisp ocean air. I would sense the Light warming my face and enveloping me in these great arms of love. I left feeling strengthened and empowered. I remember one morning as I walked I received a text photo from my sister who climbs mountains to help with the grief she experiences due to the loss of her son. I quickly took a photo of the ocean and sent it back.  I thanked the Light for giving us both that moment of connection and beauty.

 

Today as I walk I practice my vocal exercises, treatment for my latest medical issue, and as I say “Heeee” and “Wo-wo-wo-wo,” a tear falls from my eye.  I hate these ridiculous exercises.  I keep walking and look out at the wispy fog lifting above the ocean.  The coastline trail of Monterey has become a place where I am allowed to be authentic. I don’t have to pretend to be strong. The Light brings healing to my heart. 

Mari Kay Evans-Smith