What is it deep within the walls of the Brockton friary that wakes me up at such an early hour? 4:30 is hardly an appropriate time to start one’s day, but I do. First order of business–say “Rabbit…Rabbit!” Then it’s the usual early-morning “Camino de Nathaniel” office hour: read e-mails, answer correspondence, schedule appointments, confirm rendez-vous, etc. If I don’t do this now, it won’t get done on the road. By 6:30, I hear stirrings around me letting me know that breakfast will soon be available.
Leaving the Atonement friars in Brockton is like leaving the order a second time. How quickly I’ve adapted to this lifestyle since yesterday afternoon’s arrival. But my calling remains elsewhere. During morning prayers in chapel, I quietly sneak out the backdoor. First stop: drop off a letter for Henriette, the breakfast maid at the Country Inn and Suites across the street. We met her in November 2009 when Nathaniel was hospitalized. She had been so sympathetic then. She needs to know what has happened in the intervening two plus years. The news will devastate her.
Today’s itinerary is straightforward–move north and slightly west in a Newton, MA direction, but stop in late afternoon in Needham. That’s a 20.7 mile walk that will help make Saturday’s short and sweet. Here’s the line-up of towns: Sloughton, Canton, Norwood, Westwood, and finally Needham. In downtown Sloughton, I meet the mail woman, Michelle, who listens to the Nathaniel story and exudes sympathy. She can’t imagine losing a child. Neither can I!
Jenna’s Place further up the road in this same charming town looks like a perfect spot for “Second Breakfast.” Sheila hears my story too and then decides to make a public announcement about it to the other customers. I stand up and fill in the details where needed.
A woman sitting in the booth against the back wall asks me about the Foundation I represent. I explain further. She says that she’s the sister/sister-in-law of the couple who runs PeaceLove Studios in Pawtucket. Remember it? I stopped there Tuesday but it was closed.
Moving from one town to the next, I now see the New England characteristics in the architecture of the houses, churches, shops,, etc. I’m definitely not in Kansas (Pennsylvania) anymore.
It’s also beginning to feel like the end of this walk and I’m not sure I like that feeling. Like our approach to Santiago last spring, my nearing Boston is robbing me of the timelessness I felt at the beginning of this pilgrimage. Can I stay fully present over the next few days and remain in kyros time to which I’m addicted? Will thoughts of next Thursday’s rally in Boston rob me of the attention I need to fully experience the last few segments of the Camino de Nathaniel? The Earlham College group returned to Madrid yesterday, and today the May Term in Spain comes to an end. Mine will follow the same fate soon. How ambivalent I feel about this final chapter.
Early this morning, I cross the 500-mile marker and by this afternoon, the total is 519. I guess it looks as if I’ll go over the original 525-mile estimate. Wow!
Allison Webster Matlack and Dan Matlack (both former Westtown school colleagues) and family welcome me in on Hannah’s (daughter) graduation day from high school. Other relatives are present. What a perfect day in all ways!