In the spirit of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Chandi Wyant gives us her account of the life-changing pilgrimage she made through Italy after surviving a divorce and traumatic illness. With her soul in desperate need of what she describes as a “return to glow,” she heads to her beloved Italy to revive her spirit and remember who she was before heartache and illness overtook her life.
A ruptured appendix followed by sepsis forced Chandi to spend weeks in an Italian hospital during one of her trips. The illness left her weak and alone. She’d hoped for her estranged husband to come and comfort her, but was not surprised that he didn’t. It was emblematic of her marriage; of the hollowness she felt in her current life. An inner voice kept telling her to walk through Italy. She listened to that voice and decided that despite her lack of funds and weakened body, she would travel to the place that fed her soul and journey through the countryside for 40 days.
Almost immediately, she began to doubt her decision. Her body was still worn down from her illness. Her funds were inadequate for the trek. She developed plantar’s fasciitis a few days into her trip. She began to wonder whether she’d made a mistake in undertaking such a physically demanding trek, but continued to feel as though her soul needed this transformation.
I often copy down snippets of beautiful writing and found several to write down from this book. Here are a few of my favorites:
“My glow is when I loved the world and it loved me back.”
And of the Italians, “…they prioritized passion.”
I felt like the writing and Chandi’s journey in this book were transformational to me. As I read it, I thought about travel; about what travel means to me. How I feel when I’m in a different place, exploring the landscape and meeting people; observing the small ways in which our lives are the same and subtly different. Like Chandi, as I travel, I am re-affirmed that people are basically good. Strangers are often so hospitable and giving. They are welcoming and generous. Chandi’s plantar’s fasciitis limits her walking and after weeks of hiking through the Tuscan countryside, she feels compelled to hitchhike and accept rides when she can if she’s going to complete her journey.
Return to Glow is a beautifully written account of one woman’s desire to prioritize passion like her beloved Italians do. It made me want to put on my walking shoes and head out into the world. Maybe I’ll make a pilgrimage of my own someday. I hope I find the experience as fulfilling as Chandi did.
Would you ever consider making a pilgrimage? Where would you trek?