A couple of weeks ago I noticed that a walk-a-thon was being held for a worthy cause. It was not a cause that I recognized. However, I knew the location of the walk-a-thon site. The place, Batsto, was a historical bog iron foundry and village in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey located in the Wharton State Park.
Batsto Village had several restored out-buildings that I had enjoyed roaming through for the first time nearly 40 years ago. It is the place where my father had been the demonstration village blacksmith on the week-ends for twelve years after his retirement from the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It was the place where my husband, not knowing that my father worked there, took me on our first date. Batsto was a place of fond memories. So, before I knew what I was walking for, I decided to pay my $25.00 to walk the trail through the Pine Barrens which included the Village of Batsto.
At the registration desk I picked up the ubiquitous tee-shirt, bottle of water and map before hitting the trail. Alone, I set out through the woods on a sandy path keeping the red markers in sight. The weather cooperated by being just cool enough for a light jacket and cloudy enough to keep the sun from reddening my nose. It was early fall so the insects were down and the birds gone south. All I could hear was my tread on the path – a perfect opportunity for reflection.
I couldn’t believe my luck in finding a great place for a healthy walk that offered no interference to my thoughts. At my time of life, I find that gratitude is a feeling the often surfaces when I am engaged in some physical activity as many of my contemporaries suffer from such ailments that prevent them from enjoying a walk anywhere, let alone in the woods. A bit of nostalgia drifted in with memories of my father and husband meeting for the first time in this lovely place.
Time passed quickly. By the time that I reached the lake, I began to reflect on the cause for which I was walking. The tee-shirt that I was wearing stated that I was walking in memory of a young man, recently deceased, who could not walk, nor speak, nor feed himself, but who had given joy to his family and to his friends. This walk in his honor helped to support Discovery House, a retreat house for families of children with all manner of disabilities.
Although I did not see any on the trail, at the end of the path, small groups of these families had gathered. The family members were laughing, talking and congratulating each other on completing the walk. Organizers were placing ribbons around the necks of all who finished the exercise, those who walked, those who pushed wheel chairs, and those who guided the blind.
This was one walk-a-thon where I received much more than I gave. Here I was in the middle of the Pine Barrens soothed by the tranquility of nature, inspired by great acts of love and devotion to further feelings of gratitude, and, may-be just a touch of humility.