One of my dreams has been to hike up Mt. Etna in Sicily. In December, 2019, I found myself surrounded by thick grey fog as I climbed the rocky path behind our guide, up the famous volcano. In the midst of the muffled silence, we paused to look around us. Stefano beside me, gazed off into the mist, a slight smile on his face. The others behind us, down the trail, were shadowy black figures shimmering in and out of the mist. Just ahead the trail disappeared into the fog. We were standing in a cloud.
“How high up are we? And how much farther is it to the top?” I asked him.
“Only half way from here,” he answered in his deep Sicilian accent.
I looked around, trying to see through the fog. “If you weren’t here, I’d be lost. I don’t see how you know where you’re going.”
He handed me some lumps of black pumice. “Keep these for luck. They will always ground you.” I put them in my pocket.
“Have you ever gotten lost up here?” I asked, looking up into his eyes, deep, bottomless pools, waiting for an answer. It was a long timing coming. He seemed to struggle with how to say it in English.
“I am never lost.” Another long pause. “I always know where I am.”
I searched his face, wondering if he was teasing me. When he spoke at last, his eyes were serious.
“If you know where you are, you are never lost.”