A Review of The Mission Walker

by Edie Littlefield Sundby

“If you miss even a fraction of a mile, it might be where you learn the greatest lesson of your life, or where you see the most magnificent beauty, or encounter a life-changing event.”

This quote from The Mission Walker by Edie Littlefield Sundby is about the honesty required of long-distance walkers. But it also perfectly conveys the overarching theme of a survivor’s journey into and through a life well lived. And by survivor, I mean one who not only stared into the abyss but fell halfway down its depths before climbing back out and claiming her God-given right simply to exist. Ms. Sundby’s magnificent battle and improbable victory, almost by definition non-definitive, over a decidedly wicked kind of cancer forms the foundational basis for her subsequent decision to tackle the mission trails of California — both alta and baja — on a long-distance walking journey. This physical journey becomes and entails a spiritual reflection of the author’s strenuous medical journey. In the beginning, Edie Littlefield Sundby requires mostly stamina and will. Later, she must surrender to faith alone to get her through. With unflinching honesty and candor, Ms. Sundby relates her dramatic story of these two life-affirming journeys with compelling ardor and vivid presence. Always close at hand is her firm belief in God, a reliance shared with the Spanish priest, Junipero Serra, who first made this same walk in order to establish all those lovely missions with their resonant bells that punctuate the trail. A path, in fact, that passes straight through hell, where such heavenly fathers and other encountered saints are decidedly a must.

“The mission trail was a daily reminder that it’s not how fast we walk — it’s how far; it’s not how long a relationship is — it’s how deep.”

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