Walking Waking

4th March 2021 0 By Nandini

‘I was the wind, the rain, the sea’, says the author of herself towards the end of a six hundred and thirty mile walk along South West Coastal path of England. Borders dissolve, no more separation

no I no you 

no sea sans me

Raynor Winn’s journey begins when she and her husband, Moth, lose their home of thirty years, a shelter they built by hand for themselves, their now flown out of the nest children and the animals they nurtured. 

Cheated by a friend. Homeless.

A few days after the court hearing when the judge announces the verdict that will take their home away from them, they learn that Moth is suffering from a terminal illness. While the bailiff bangs on the windows outside the locked house, inside, the couple crouch under the staircase. Their staircase. And then…in a flash…. we will walk, decides Raynor.

And they do.

Out of their front door for six hundred and thirty miles.

Despite the doctor warning Moth not to climb the stairs or move much

Despite the steep climbs, the rocks, the rough path

Despite the cheap sleeping bags that do not keep them warm

Despite fear of being caught for illegally camping in the wild

Despite scorching sun, relentless rain

Despite day after day of noodles, tea and fudge as the only nourishment

Despite the crippling pain in Moth’s shoulder

Leaving home, they, walk. One foot, then the other. So not to think about what happened. So not to think about what next. One foot, then the other. For six hundred and thirty miles, while the seasons around them change, they walk. As the seasons within them change, they walk. Moth’s pain disappears, and he walks. Raynor has chosen hope over despair and tells the tale in her memoir The Salt Path.

‘I was the wind, the rain, the sea’ says the author of herself.

One foot. Then the other.

no I no you

no sea sans me

walking waking

In far off India, nine million people fill the gap between sowing and reaping, walking. One foot, then the other. As I watch the images of feet, some calloused, others decorated with jewels and paint, some both calloused and decorated, making contact with the rust coloured earth in slow motion- then stillness, then motion again – one foot, then the next, I am moved to tears. The film At Home, Walking brings home the spirit of the pilgrim. One foot, then the other. In scorching sun. In pouring rain. 

The pilgrims of another time, another place appear to speak to Raynor and Moth. They have found home, walking.

For over a thousand years, this colossal mass of humanity of all ages, castes and creeds from villages in India leave their front doors to walk over two hundred and twenty miles to their destination by the banks of a river. There, in the darkness of sanctuary, in the few minutes that they have in the presence of the divine, the deity with the large eyes says to each one of them silently, ‘I have seen you. You have walked’. 

Like with Raynor, the pilgrim walks and borders dissolve, all that ties her down gets cast off, the lines that she herself has drawn are erased. 

no I no you

no sea sans me

walking waking

To watch the film At Home, Walking, click here

To read a review of The Salt Path, click here