Friday, November 4, 2011

Op de Blotevoetenpad

‘Literally a “Barefoot Walk”.

Ages ago, when I was a camp counselor for the YMCA, we were trained in “Nature Immersion”, the technique of going belly-first through grass and into swamps to get a better connection (and smell) of habitats.

This is similar: the blotevoetenpad is a park in Belgium, set up as a 2 km path through the woods.  Visitors join small groups that walk in barefoot silence behind a guide.  Since our tour was very early on a Sunday morning, They included a philosophical / spiritual element alongside the tour.


It’s an interesting experience, the path changes texture all along the way.  The grass was soft and cool, infinitely pleasing; stones were sharp and miserable.  There was knee-deep water and shin-deep mud, squishing between my toes and warmly caking my ankles.  Startled toads emerged from the soup as we squished through, hopping off into the woods.  The hills were a little challenging to climb, even with log steps to balance on; the tower even moreso.

The tour ended with a small breakfast and a lecture on healthy living..  Our guide had recently passed through a health crisis so was emphasizing the need to slow down, recognize what was important, and then find the right balance in life.  She illustrated her points with symbols from along the path: the maze, the tower, but waterfall, the stones.

My friends took unwarranted delight in singling me out as one of the most unbalanced lives in the room.  “Life is short; opportunities are few.  When you have a chance, you have to jump for it,” I offered.

Neither of us embraced the other’s point of view that morning.  Still, I see the wisdom in the talk: the day will come when I’m sure that I’ll share her perspective.

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