« My Strength and My Salvation – | Main | Walking Through the Biotic Community »

Update: The Conclusion of the First Week

Posted on Sunday, May 21, 2006 at 03:18PM by Registered CommenterMarshall Massey in | Comments4 Comments

The physician at the Corning clinic wanted to know my politics before he treated me. Was I a Republican or a Democrat? Did I support George Bush? “You’re a religious person, so you must support George Bush because George Bush talks to God. — But so does everybody talk to God.”

I attempted to tell him that Friends support and encourage good works wherever they manifest, rather than siding with one group of people against another — more or less as Friend Edward Burrough put it back in 1659:

…We are not for … this Party, nor against the other, because of its Name and Pretence; but we are for Justice and Mercy, and Truth and Peace, and true Freedom, that these may be exalted in our Nation; and that Goodness, Righteousness, Meekness, Temperance, Peace and Unity with God, and one with another, that these things may … be brought forth abundantly….

I fear the doctor failed to understand. He eventually gave up his attempts to pigeonhole me, though, and prescribed antibiotics, and a nurse taped thick gauze pads to each hip. Walking with the pack was quite painless thereafter, until the very end of my day when fatigue set my feet to fresh hurting.

Such beautiful country! And such kindly people in it. The sun shone, the hills rolled, the leaves of the trees sang in the wind. When the land thrives as it did that spring day, one can easily fail to think of the missing species (bison, beaver, waterfowl, etc.) that would have been there had it been wild, and believe that one is looking at Creation in its full glory. Certainly God’s glory shone through it. Cattle grazing at the fences next to the highway traded looks with one another as I appeared, and then retreated to the far corners of their pastures. I think I was offered a lift, unsolicited, from passing drivers seven times that day. I declined, thanking each driver for her or his good will and thoughtfulness.

I thought of how wonderfully knit the people of this region are, that they are so ready to give care even to passing strangers. And how connected might this knitting be to the hope of preserving the land and restoring the biotic community? I’d guess there’s some sort of connection. What would it take to nurture this sort of knitting elsewhere? Does anyone reading this have any thoughts?

Near the end of the day, the young Lenox, Iowa, pastor who had arranged hospitality for me that night, drove by and offered to take my pack in the back of his car, so that I could finish my walk unburdened. I declined even that; I was feeling the joy of obedience to my leading.

My actual host that night proved to be one of the pastor’s parishioners, a young man who had been in an accident and now lived off his disability checks, devoting his time to good and religious deeds. He’d gone with his pastor at least twice to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to help poor folks rebuild their homes. He’d also been taking a string of homeless people into his humble two-room apartment; I was by no means the first.

We ate at the pastor’s home, and afterward my host drove me about Lenox, showing me the sights. Unlike the tour I’d been given in Villisca, this one was of human features only: the churches, the shopping district, the golf course, etc. Not everyone thinks naturally of the non-human world; even saints are not all Saint Francises.

My heavens, I was stunned at how sore I was now! Suddenly I could barely hobble around. The pads taped to my hips had stopped most of the pain, but the tape on the pads had created new damage. The blister on my right foot had returned and enlarged and was looking inflamed. Showering hurt like the dickens.

Come morning, that small Voice inside me told me I couldn’t simply soldier on. My planned walk for the day was just thirteen miles to Creston — from pin 18 to pin 19 on the map here.may 19-20.jpg But even that might be more than my right foot could bear, to say nothing of my hips. I needed fresh medical attention, the sooner the better.

Fortunately — or should I say by God’s grace? — I’d walked just a single mile down the road when my hostess from my night at Stanton, riding in a car with three co-workers, pulled over. Smiling broadly, she offered a lift. I said, yes!

So then, Creston: The city’s manager of emergency services just happened to be at the motel when I checked in; overhearing my situation, he lined up an appointment with the podiatrist across town, without being asked, and insisted on driving me there.

The podiatrist decided that the probable cause of the blistering was the shape of my foot; the ball of the foot was a little lower than perhaps it should be, so that it wound up taking more than its share of pounding as I walked. Infection was beginning to set in. After treating the infection, he cut an insert for my shoe that would take the weight off the part that was suffering. He also prescribed a regimen of soaking that would keep me from hiking for two days.

My hips posed a separate problem. They needed time and freedom to heal, and I needed to find a way to stop the chafing. I gave that question careful study the next morning — listening to the tools and materials involved, instead of just trying to use them.

Specifically, I studied how the weight of the belt on my backpack was combining with the seams at the sides and pockets of my pants and the motion of my hips as I walked, to wear at the flesh. What change, or combination of changes, could solve this problem?

A little experimentation showed that no arrangement of tape, to hold on pads, could keep the tape from making things worse. So taping was out. Nor would padding alone suffice in any case, for the seams on all the pants I’d been using would still concentrate friction on small portions of my legs, causing such problems to recur. And having to tape on pads every single morning of the walk was undesirable for other reasons: time consuming, liable to go wrong, and requiring that I seek out fresh pads and tape along the way.

So it appeared I needed pants without seams, or pants that were looser at the hips and had very flat and low-friction seams — in either case, made of low friction fabric — along with some sort of padding between pants and skin that would not require tape.

How often did the Valiant Sixty have to worry about such things? Gosh, I feel so much smaller and pettier than them.)

Well, the walk was already interrupted. The employees at the Creston motel were quite supportive — one of them gave me a lift on an errand I needed to run, and then drove me about the town showing me the sights — but remaining in the motel at $60 a night while I found and ordered in better clothing would be a spectacular waste of my donors’ money. The smart thing would be to return for a few days to Omaha, obtain better clothing, and then resume the walk a bit further down the road.

Fortunately I have no meetings with Friends or others planned this side of Fairfield, Iowa. I’d deeply miss the therapy of the walk itself, which has been so wonderful for my heart and soul — already I feel somewhat changed by it! — but I could resume once I had the clothing I needed. And even the interruption would be in a spirit of wanting to fulfill the leading I’d been given.

My dear wife wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of hauling me back to Omaha to re-equip. But she was willing — and it was wonderful to see her.

ew tiny.png

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (4)

hi marshall, just finding the time to read some about your travels along with your hips and feet. get some SUPER LONG ladies pads and place these on the seams of your pants inside and these work well as padding after dessing your hips with a nonstick dressing. also after you wrap your feet put these on last and roll some gauze around them. that’s a few easy, cheap, and lightweight things off the top of my head but better still do you want me to mail you a kit of needful first aid things? you could also use felt to line the seams. if nothing else we have used wet moss which works good but not under clothing. just try to keep your hands clean so you don’t get a secondary infection in your wounds. ok i am too sleepy to find the spell checker on here so overlook me please on that. i just wish i had said when first reading of your plans for you to get a horse to ride as that was in my mind some time ago. i think we all must prayer better for your time on the road, for it to be all it’s meant to be for you and those you will share with now and in the time to come. all in all it sounds like you have had a test run and i look forward to hearing/reading about your new start up. faith

-- comment posted by faith
May 23rd, 2006 at 1:07 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:22PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Dear Marshall,

Greetings from Surya Prakash!

At the outset I like to wish speedy recovery.

The journey as I see is so beautiful and the opportunity of looking at life and its musings and your expressions are wonderful.

I have to yet read all your posts of your journey.

Meanwhile as I see if I were to take the similar journey, I see it will be painful to know things much deeper, we have enough visible situations, like for instance -
Scorching Sun - People walking with no footwear
Vessels spread - Waiting for the water tanker
Trees felled - Waiting for the flyover to be constructed.
Alcohol Shops - Right in front of schools

Just a few examples - Enough visible data to say that life hardly matters.

All the best for your journey.

-Surya Prakash.

-- comment posted by Surya Prakash
May 23rd, 2006 at 2:14 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:23PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Fortunately we can recognize that our pathway is multi-dimensional, so there is no back-tracking, just what can be viewed as further movement along a spiral staircase, so to speak. We might think we were “here” earlier but in fact are “here” but at a higher level (assuming we have managed a rising staircase, of course). So there is no return to Omaha, just further progress along your journey, but don’t look “down” — yesterday’s Omaha is very far below.

-- comment posted by Steve Evans, http://sevansgsm-usa.com/
May 24th, 2006 at 12:47 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:24PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey
Dear Faith, I appreciate your suggestions. I am hopeful that the hiker’s pants I am ordering in will do the trick; we shall see. There’s no need to send me a first aid kit since such things are for sale here in Omaha!

Surya Prakash, friend, I am moved by your description of what you’d see if one were to undertake a similar walk across India. I am curious to know whether you are familiar with the walks through India undertaken by Vinoba Bhave and Satish Kumar. These were walks far longer, more radical, and more profound than my small effort. But I don’t think either Vinoba Bhave or Satish Kumar concluded that “life hardly matters”. To both of them, as to me, the simple chance to live is the most precious of all God’s gifts to us.

Steve, I appreciate your words of encouragement!

-- comment posted by Marshall
May 24th, 2006 at 7:47 a.m.
Sep 2, 2006 at 02:25PM | Registered CommenterMarshall Massey

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>