Glenmalure to Moyne
The valley of Glenmalure is a seven-mile glacial gorge. Rising above the valley is the Slieve Maan, a long slow climb of over 500 meters. To begin the walk I passed by the halfway marker of the Wicklow Way. I’ve walked sixty-four kilometers in four days and now I will cover the same distance in three days.
Today was what I would consider a normal day of life, mundane if you will. Lots of slow climbing, a work requiring stops to catch my breath. No rain, a blessing, yet replaced by the humidity and the annoyance of flies, fruit bees, and gnats. I had make friends with the flies by telling them they could ride on my cap, which seemed to work. I walked alone with my friends the flies, only seeing one timber lorrie (truck) and six other walkers going in the opposite direction.
I encountered one hill walker struggling up a hill about halfway into my day. He looked to be my age, nearing sixty. He was short, middle-aged extra weight but not heavy, carrying a small pack and leaning on a branch he had found to make into his walking stick. His face was bright red and he was breathing heavily. He had stopped and so I stood by him for a second while he caught his breath.
“Is this the Wickow Way?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“I got lost on the turn after the bridge and walked two miles out of my way before deciding to come back to the bridge,” he said.
“That’s rough,” I said.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“The US, and you?”
“Denmark. It’s just like this, wet and humid and lots of flies,” he said. “Where are you headed tonight?”
“Do you know where you’re staying?”
“At Kyle’s Farmhouse B&B,” I said.
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. “Can you take these back. I left in a fuddle this morning. I started out lost I guess.”
“Sure,” I said.
“Nice to meet you and good walking,” he said.
“Blessing and I hope the rest of your walk is better,” I said.
Sometimes we are in the right place to offer assistance and the person, in turn, gives us the key we need. It turns out that the key he gave me was to room Cathy and I would need for our room that night. Twice during my walk I prayed for the man from Denmark.
The rest of the Way I double-checked all the markers and signs to make sure I was walking the right direction. I even went back once after a hundred yards, doubting I had gone in the correct direction, only to discover I was indeed going the right way.
There are no mundane days and there are no chance meetings. Every day is important. Every encounter needs attention. I learned today that every person I meet might have the key I need.
Priest, pilgrim, writer, alchemist—living into the mystery, the knowledge, and the practice of sacred alchemy. I've walked across Ireland, almost 400 miles of mountains, valleys, forests, and magic. The pilgrimage was a mirror of my life's journey, coach, president, priest. Traveler of the life's struggles—from failure to re-imagination—still walking.