Evidently the priests in Corby Hall have been discussing the Notre Dame Trail. I am told it is frequently a topic of discussion at table. I gather they sit and consider the prospect of walking 300-plus miles across Indiana over thirteen days in the August summer heat and humidity, and I hear their universal conclusion is: That’s not gonna happen. I love that image. It gives me the giggles. I love the picture of all these priests sitting down to dinner – all these men who have dedicated their lives to God and their intellects to the study of chemistry and theology and history and engineering and their hearts to future generations of students from around the world – and someone bringing up the idea of walking across Indiana like it’s a way to relax and unwind, and the rest looking at him like “You mad, bro?”
My job here is not an easy one. That’s not a woe-is-me comment. I’m not looking for sympathy. I feel remarkably fortunate and honored to have the assignment I do on this excursion, this walk, this pilgrimage. But, really, it’s not easy. It’s my job to be honest. Try being really honest – truly open with what’s going on in your heart and mind – whilst at the same time hoping not to offend anyone. I mean, the sky is honestly blue, but beyond that we’re likely to get into some trouble. But that’s my job, here.
In case you don’t know Haley Scott DeMaria (’95) by name, she’s the Rudy of my era. Haley is a pretty amazing woman and her reasons for walking the Trail are pretty amazing reasons and her story is in turns heartbreaking and uplifting and there are important people to honor and mention.
Beginning is the hardest part. That goes for just about everything. If there’s something I’ve learned, having crested what is (mathematically, at least) “middle age”, it is that I’m actually not as good at beginning as I would like to tell myself I am. I’m ace on the accelerator. Give me a direction and I’ll get us there. When Opportunity knocks, I answer. I grab it by the lapels and give it a big, mushy kiss. I bring it in and pour it a drink. We’re best buds, Opportunity and me.
Bill Borders seems to be the sort who doesn’t ponder a bad decision too long before jumping in, which again is something to which I can relate. He signed up for the 5-day leg of the pilgrimage almost immediately and then let the organizers know “I can do the whole thing if you need someone.”