Walking for Peace
Back in late 2000, I abandoned a lucrative career at Microsoft to embark on a search for an authentic self and life with meaning. My seeking led me to many sacred sites but eventually found me on the Camino, walking along this ancient 800-kilometer pilgrimage path in northern Spain. There, as I shed the identities that no longer defined me (corporate professional, ex-wife, and “good girl”) and began facing my own fears and judgments, I received an inspiration to walk a path more mystical than physical called The Way of the Soul. Its final destination was Jerusalem, and it promised a journey of reconnecting with my soul and its highest calling.
I was planning to walk alone, but destiny had other plans, and brought into my path a Spanish pilgrim named Alberto. We met for one afternoon only, at the end of the Camino, in a town called Finisterre, whose name literally means the end of the world. He admired my idea, but felt no calling to join.
Three months later, shortly after 9/11, as I was making my way to Rome to begin walking, the Universe would bring Alberto into my path again. This time, he felt the calling to join me on this 5000-kilometer journey for peace, a quest to understand the meaning of this word “peace,” and to carry it to Jerusalem.
Neither spoke the other’s language. In Italy, we were forced to learn Italian, and so communication became a mix of sign and all languages! We had no sponsors, no religious, political or social agendas or affiliations. We were merely two ordinary individuals who believed that to change the world, we must begin by changing ourselves. That would be our message through the 13 countries we would walk through.
Our 13-month walk to Jerusalem was unique in that we did not plan our route or the places we would stay. There were no hotel rooms booked in advance. There were no yellow arrows, as there are on the Camino, to show the way. We simply carried a road map and plotted out our daily route, trying to average around twenty-five kilometers a day, while staying away from busy thoroughfares. We walked along the side of the open road and slept wherever we were given shelter: from the floors of church halls to the warm beds of hostels to the homes of people who saw us on the road and invited us in.
We carried the message “Walking for Peace” on our backpacks in the language of each country we walked in, acting as billboards for peace, and shared the message of outer peace through inner transformation with the multitudes who stopped us. No matter how brief the exchange, in that moment, they were reminded of the power they had to create change in the world through their seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and compassion, through their willingness to challenge their beliefs and suppositions, through their courage to seek unity rather than separation. As were we. Like dropping a pebble in a pond, the ripple effects of our thoughts, words and acts are immeasurable.
At its core, ours was a journey of personal transformation, a call of the soul to embark on a quest for self and meaning. That quest put to the test every belief we held about peace, life and love. Through the obstacles placed before us, we saw revealed our fears, frailties and limitations…all of which keep the seed of peace deeply buried in the heart. And in seeing them, we could finally heal them. Through moments of what can only be described as miraculous, we saw the hand of Love working its magic, orchestrating the events and people to remind us that we are never alone. That we are deeply loved. That in living our dreams and following our highest calling, we are honoring our soul’s purpose, and in so doing are transforming ourselves and the world around us. We need do nothing more than stand firm in our authentic selves, and allow that light to shine.
If you would like to learn more about the journey itself, our website www.walkingforpeace.com contains many details including maps, photos, short stories and much more information that you may find interesting.
Mony Dojeiji & Alberto Agraso