On March 31st I signed up for a “Virtual Challenge” – to walk 300km in three months to raise money for breast cancer research.
I wasn’t sure if I could do it (I’m still not entirely sure – but I am doing it).
So I’ve been walking a lot the last few weeks.
At least, a lot for ME.
I have surprised myself. And this feels important.
My family is too well acquainted with cancer. Three of my four siblings have had cancer. That’s three too many.
And one of them, our youngest sister, died two years ago. That is definitely one too many.
For months after Lori died, I would feel the grief swell inside of me until I was compelled to walk out the door. I just couldn’t sit with it. And I couldn’t DO ANYTHING to change it – the whole horrible truth of it.
I needed to be where I could breath and move and look at the sky.
I would stand up and walk out the door and leave everything as it was – sometimes the television on, or wet laundry in a pile on the floor next to the drying rack, or a half finished meal.
I’d like to be walking with my sister. I’ll always be walking with my sister.
I can walk because three years ago (nearly) I got a new knee, and my sisters came to help me (I had a lot of helpful friends too!).
So when I heard about this challenge I thought – maybe I can do that. Maybe I can walk 300km to raise money for breast cancer research. It seemed like a suitable and meaningful thing to do.
In 26 days I’ve walked 97 km (60 miles). No one is more surprised than me.
I’ve learned something important…
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10, 12b
As I walked along the seafront with a friend a week ago, I commented that when we walk together I am less aware of how far we are going – or that my body is tired and sore…
She said that this true for her as well, and she has been walking more since I began this challenge.
Two are better than one.
One day, not long ago, I was out walking by myself. I came to a crossroads, tired in my body and soul. I had the choice of taking a turn that would make the way back to my house just a little longer or going there directly.
I needed the distance, but I wanted to be done.
And in that moment I received a text from a friend thousands of miles away. It said, “Keep walking!”
I shook my head, and took the turn and walked a little farther (Is she tracking me?).
Two are better than one… If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, apart from signing up for the challenge, is that I told people I had signed up for the challenge.
And people sponsored me. financially. some surprising people sponsored me financially. It is a fundraiser, after all… and said they were proud of me.
I think I am good alone. I think that I will be fine and I can sign up for a challenge and give it a try – and if I can’t do it, no one needs to know.
What if it is too hard? What if my knee hurts? or my back? and it just sounds like I’m making excuses?
What if I disappoint people?
I’m good alone. I can do it. Or not do it. (And maybe I can’t do it and no one has to know.)
I started the challenge a month late, so I was already 100km behind. I did the math and I knew how far I had to go every day to catch up.
And the first day I did it. And I wanted to vomit. And every part of my body hurt.
And the second day I did it. And I slept more hours than I usually do…
And then I decided to ask for help. I asked if there were some people who would be willing to walk some extra kilometers over the next two months, and make up the distance that I was behind.
And I committed to do all 300 kilometres in 3 months, which would take me a month beyond the end of the challenge.
I think I’ll reach my first 100 kilometres tomorrow. What?
Tonight I came home and got two messages from two women who have encouraged me all along. One offered 3.2 kms that she walked today. Another friend offered 4 kms.
So far these friends (and a few others) have helped me walk 180.7 kms. They have gifted me 83.5 kms to add to my total.
Two are better than one. And a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The thing is, I had to let them. I had to say, “I’m doing this and I think I need help.”
I feel like I was saying, “I am hopeful and afraid to hope. I feel fragile and inadequate and I need you.” And of course, I ended that implied, vulnerable declaration with, ”but if you can’t help, that’s okay! I’ll be fine!”
Because, you know, I’m good alone. I am contained and I am capable. I am independent. I am strong.
And sometimes I need help (more often than I would like). And there are lovely people around me who love me, and answer when I call.
They walk with me – figuratively, and literally. And the walk is easier because of it.
I think many of us want to be that “two” for someone else. But we don’t want to need that “two” for ourselves.
But pity the one who falls and has no one to help them up.
Open your heart to the “entwining” of friends who will walk with you. That’s what I’m learning. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
And tomorrow I will reach my first 100k, completed in just under four weeks. I don’t think I would have persevered alone. That is “a good return” for our labour.
Inhale: You have made known to me the path of life.
Exhale: I do not walk it alone.
That’s what I would have said…