Greetings all walkers of life.

As you may know, 2007 was a challenging year for me, when my beloved wife Lin was ill with cancer. I cared for her, with the help of trusted friends, until she passed on in May of that year. This was both the biggest loss and biggest gift of my life.

Since then, grief has washed over me like a wave, rolling in, retreating, jarring me, cleansing me. Sometimes the waves threaten to take me under. Then I see Lin with those big, loving, accepting blue eyes, her comforting smile, and her gentle voice, telling me to wash my tears, take a step outside, and LIVE.

I imagine the day when I myself pass on and leave my friends and family behind. What would I wish for them? Obviously I could understand them missing me, but then I would want them to live, I mean really live… fully and authentically. This is what Lin and I talked about in our last days together.

Later in 2007, I made several trips, allowing myself the time and space to begin healing. In 2008, slowly my energy returned, and I felt a renewed interest in my work. Carolyn Affleck and I gave our first Camino slide show in two years. In early spring, we traveled to the States to give a presentation on our Japanese pilgrimage, and to attend the opening of the Sacred Steps Camino art show, which is currently touring North America. Several of Carolyn's photographs are included in this exhibition. We also created a new Camino calendar for 2009.

Carolyn and I came together almost four years ago to create a book, and after this last trip together we decided to stop talking and just do it. We are clear now on our vision. We have been working steadily on “Walking to Japan”, eager to publish it in spring 2009. To be back talking and walking and keeping the spirit of peace alive is very life- affirming for me.

Thanks to Lin, I intend to become MORE: more understanding, more loving, more friendly, more accepting, more forgiving. I will walk more, I will laugh more, I will cry more, I will play more, I will see more, I will hear more and I will accept all of this graciously as another gift from my darling wife, who is still with me every day. So if you see me on the street and you ask, “How are you doing, Derek?” I hope you will understand if I smile and simply say “I am more.”

Please take a moment to read some entries from the journal Lin and I wrote together during her illness:

In peace, Derek Walker Youngs December, 2008