Tuesday, July 24, 2007


About 6 miles into a morning walk to D.C., I was jaunting down Virginia Ave, looking forward to visiting a friend. Cool weather, good rhythm, happy destination.

A man was walking slowly toward me on the sidewalk. He had walking sticks. On the Camino, when I saw someone with walking sticks, I automatically assumed I was looking at a pilgrim. The clacking of sticks was a perfectly normal sound in the cities of Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, and Santiago. No one found it peculiar there, but in D.C. it seems curious. I was walking stickless that morning, but it was pleasing to see someone using them.

The man was meandering along. He gave me a big smile. When we got closer, he stopped and said something to me. I didn't hear it the first time, so I asked him to repeat it. I expected him to comment on my hair; African American men seem to like my hair.

He said jovially, "Do you want to switch legs?" I looked carefully and realized his walking sticks were some kind of crutches, and his injuries seemed permanent. He told me that it looked like my legs were strong, that they could carry me far.

I felt flustered by such an enormous compliment. Part of me wanted to tell him about my recent adventure, about how much I have grown to love my shapeless, sturdy legs. I wanted to tell him that I am now constantly aware of the gift of my healthy body. I wanted to ask his story and hear about his injuries. I wanted to hear about his walking.

I don't remember what I said. Just something short and silly. We moved past one another and laughed together and kept walking.

I was right about those sticks. He's a pilgrim.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...


Really glad you carry this blog on now you are home - I keep checking in to see how you doing.

Charl (UK)