Kimber here. You already know that one of us is super stingy with uber high ratings (Hi, Mom). But every once in a while, a book comes along that makes the grade. Keep Walking, Your Heart Will Catch Up is one of those books.
We don’t say that often. So I’d listen up ‘fize you. Here’s why:
A Camino de Santiago Journey
By Cathay O. RetaKeep Walking is the true story of one middle-aged woman’s solo hike and lessons learned along nearly 500 miles of Spain’s Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James.) Hoping to ask the right questions, the author reflects on Hannah Hurd’s classic Hind’s Feet on High Places along the way.
The result is a gentle journey of self-discovery, authenticity and joy in this delightful faith-flavored reflection. (Although well familiar with Hannah Hurd, I hadn’t heard of the Camino de Santiago until reading this book. The Camino is one of three Christian pilgrimage sites, along with Rome and Jerusalem. Just shows you what I know.)
Anyway, author Cathay O. Reta decides to hike the Camino for two main reasons: 1) To commemorate her 65th birthday, and 2) She’s trying to figure out what to do with her life following the loss of her husband of thirty-three years.
Warm & Refreshing
Told in the first person, the narration is warm and refreshingly honest. A stand out section describes how Reta is sitting in the comfort of a hotel room (instead of the usual hostel). The room “pulls her off the Camino.” She feels like a tourist, not a pilgrim. Reta explains:
“It’s the idea that the difficulty of walking the Camino pulls you into a heart space that you can’t access while sitting in the comfort of a modern hotel room.”
Feeling unconnected and alone, the author struggles to figure out how she fits in. That’s where the physical-emotional-mental connection of walking the Camino comes in. Here she learns how vulnerability is “a doorway to being accepted.” And how the walk is a physical struggle matching “the inner breaking of the heart and of the soul.”
Connections, Not Canned Answers
There are no canned answers here. No pious platitudes or trite cliches. Indeed, the heart cries and questions pile up through the miles as both the author and Hurd’s Much Afraid learn to walk on their high places. As the author shares her experiences, emotions, and interactions along the Camino, readers will discover a level of authenticity and candor with which they can readily connect. Like how to forgive someone for dying and leaving you alone.
There’s much to chew on here. Heartfelt and contemplative, Keep Walking is a “story of self-discovery, transformation and renewal.” It’s a journey of the soul from heartbreak to wholeness. “That’s what we do. We look out for each other.”
Indeed, whether it’s hobbling on aching heels, battling bed bugs and stifling heat, or sorting through loss, anger, and loneliness to reach acceptance, gratitude, and joy in this story, there’s something tender and translucent in the telling that’s compelling.
We loved this book.
(Mom, are you doing that sniffly thing again? Did I mention that Mom is also a lifelong hiker? A few days before this book arrived she signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge. One hike, every week, for a year. Mom says she’ll do the 52 in 104 days. Or less. Keep an eye on this girl!)
If you’ve ever struggled with loss, loneliness or wondered where in the world you belong and why, keep walking. I’d grab a copy quick, ‘fize you.
Visit Cathay online at: CathayReta