The May Marylake walk is generally the Saturday nearest to May 13th. This year’, May 13th falls on a Saturday and thus, the May 2017 walk will be on:
Saturday, May 13, 2017
I’ve written some posts about how to prepare for the walk and how to take care of yourself after the walk, but one thing I haven’t delved too much into is the walk itself and how it makes me (personally) feel. So I’ll take a few minutes of your time to really describe what going on this trek means to me.
Waking up before dawn is not fun. Putting Nivea on your face to prepare for windburn kind of sucks and bundling up when you’re barely awake isn’t my favourite way to start a weekend. Having said that, I willingly make the journey from Toronto to King City with my mother because I want to – and she does too.
I’m wide awake after the first couple of hours, which is generally when the sun begins to rise. Although I’m not entirely sure where I am when the sun begins its ascent, it is always a welcoming sight when the blackness slowly transforms into navy, the stars dimming and finally disappearing.
Half way in, my fingers are swollen. Conversation between my mother and I slowly decreases, as we want to keep our breathing as even as possible (believe it or not, brisk walking and talking equals being tired out alot faster….and no, we are not gym-swearing women so that may be half the reason- nevertheless!)
Three quarters into the walk (around Keele and Major Mackenzie) is where the trek really takes its tole. My back hurts, my thighs are on fire and my feet want nothing more than to be free of their infernal casings. Approximatley an hour after we cross Major Mackenzie until we reach the shrine is probably the worst hours of my self-doubt (as far as the walk goes, anyway). This is where I keep thinking “Why on earth do I keep doing this walk? I am in so much pain, I don’t think I can do this. I am absolutely insane to do this twice a year.”
At this point, my headphones are in my ears, my mom and I are side-by-side and we both no longer tell our legs to walk. They just….go. We’re both in pain but still determined.
The walk from the welcoming gate to the shrine itself is also an experience in and of itself. The road is small, (two cars cannot comfortably pass beside one another without slowing down to 5 km/h) there are lots of people walking to the shrine, plus the road is twisty….and hilly. Your thighs will scream in protest when you climb that final high hill from the end of the road to the church, but the satisfaction of having made it is well worth it.
Finally, my favourite part: the church. Opening the doors, you’ll first be hit with the waft of slow-burning candles. The shrine is homely and inviting, warmed by both the candles and the sunlight spilling through the church’s blue stained glass windows. The entire church is quiet, but not silent: there are some people talking quietly in one corner, another few whispering. Generally, my mother and I purchase a candle or two, light it and place it next to the image of Mother Mary, say a prayer infront of her and sit in one of the chairs behind us.
There, we say a few more prayers and then sit in silent appreciation. It’s the part I look forward to the most. The shrine is serene and beautiful. Full of life, yet quiet and respectful. Those who wish to pray can and those who wish to sit, rest and just be happy with themselves and what they have accomplished can and may do so at their leisure. There is no judgement on what you wear, what you look or what you do. It’s my favourite part whenever I am in any church as a matter of fact because it’s one of the few places I can be alone with my thoughts in an inviting environment. It may not be much to some, but it is beautiful and pure to me….
Perhaps that feeling is what I am after when I begin the walk. It is a tough walk and is ever more difficult if the elements are against you (too hot, too cold, rains, etc), but I know the reward is worth it. I know that at the end of that trek, there is happiness. At the end of that road, there is something true that will always be there: a reward that I am guaranteed to have if I just fight through these 8-10 hours for it. Maybe it is the absence of that certainty in life that makes me appreciate this walk as much as I do. Where life is wavering and intimidating with no assured prize at the end of the tunnel, this walk will always deliver. Even if I fight tooth and nail, scrounge every ounce of strength, give everything I am to give myself a good life… it is not a guarantee. I may fail- hell, I will probably fail. I have failed before and I’m sure I will fail again. It’s hard to put your gloves back on and fight another round against life’s obstacles when the hand you may be dealt at the end is a dud.
Walking to Marylake, there is pain. You suffer walking through the thick of rain, soaked with sweat from the inside and wet with the cold rain on the outside. But you know everything will be alright on the other side. Those eight, nine, even ten hours of struggling through with the wind against you and self-doubt in your mind is worth it… Just for a few minutes of absolute, guaranteed serenity. Just to find those few moments where everything you fought for has yielded a reward, and you love this reward. This reward is valuable in my mind and was worth those hours of walking. It’s worth it – it’s still worth it to me.
As always, please e-mail me should you have any questions and safe travels!