Nala – Valley Trail
This post is part of a series highlighting alums Erica Hocking and Sherry Gobaleza’s six-week pilgrimage on the Colorado Trail. Learn more about the pilgrimage here. They are asking people to give to Naropa in honor of their pilgrimage – all donations go towards scholarships for Naropa students.

Below, read the latest update from Erica & Sherry :

Things are changing.

Sherry became very ill and needed immediate medical care. Our dear friend helped save the day by running to the road. Spent the the last couple days recuperating with friends.

Sherry is doing much better. We have touched intimately grief we share with many who know well the damage inflicted upon Mother Earth and her children by industrial mining activities and the poisons it creates. It is clear now Sherry was sickened by toxic plastic from a water bottle no amount of cleaning could wipe away.

How then must the earth and her children feel? There is, after all, no where else for toxins to live but here; there is no “away” where we can throw wastes of affluent industrialized culture that does not limit or destroy life’s abundance and health.

We are continuing in a new way: more heart, wandering, sensing, tracking, slow-motion. We have joked about the idea of walking this path as slowly as possible, has anyone ever tried that; or has it always been on this collection of migration routes we call the Colorado Trail that folks hurry on their way? What do we miss in hurrying?

Caught as we felt we were between the desire to go fast, making the whole trip squeeze into a linear time frame, and the deep embodied sense of being still within, so that we can sense the land we love—her stories, her dreams, her wounds and to feel them as we feel our own, not separate but in all ways forever connected—we were made to slow down.

We now walk a path more like a circle less like a square.

We are called back to the cave near the place where we prostrated ourselves under the shade of fir trees, in the company of a creek and wild healing herbs who told us, “this is a sickness much bigger than you think, we can help but you must keep going, return again, look deeper,” the place where Sherry became ill. For healing is together, blessedly always together.

We leave you for now with a poem from Mary Oliver.

“There is the heaven we enter through institutional grace and there are the yellow finches bathing and singing in the lowly puddle.”
Onward and inward, we will keep you updated, many blessings!

– Erica, Sherry, Nala

From Erica & Sherry: We’d been staying in an old mining cabin for the first two weeks of July high in the mountains of the Front Range in preparation for the pilgrimage. We read poetry about mining by a woman who lived in the area. We walked, and meditated, studied and lived quietly collecting firewood and water from the creek nearby. Being there has put us in touch with a sense of the spirit of place. Though we weren’t there long, we feel much more prepared now for the pilgrimage.