Personal Insights from the Road
Ah, Crossroads. They told me every step would be a blessing and a curse. Three weeks into the walk, two states crossed, blood (literally), sweat (unavoidable), and tears (usually from sleep deprivation…just before you become incredibly slap happy). I look at the blisters on everyone’s feet and am amazed at the perseverance, strength, and sacrifices of everyone on this walk. It’s hard. It’s hard living in an RV with eight other people at times. Where does our strength come from? Not from our own power, that’s for sure.
It’s hard, but there are moments. Last week, while walking on night shift in the middle of nowhere in the hills of Arizona, a cop car pulled up to us. Expecting the usual, “Are you guys ok? What are you doing?” we were surprised when we were asked if we had a phone and told to call a certain number if we heard growling. Apparently, there was a bear loose on the side of the highway, but they did not seem too concerned for our safety as they drove back and forth with spotlights shining into the brush. The large animal cage that came along on a truck a little while later was a bit unnerving… I decided to end the night short and spare my fellow mates from potentially becoming bear food by tripping, splitting my hand open, and taking everyone on a joy ride to the ER. Good times!
For me the walking is more of a blessing than a curse. I came out here to walk. When the only thing required of me is to walk and pray and meditate and get to know the person you are walking with more deeply, I am at peace and find such joy in life. I grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually while walking down the side of the road. Blessings and curses. I dwell on something a beautiful old man said to us after morning mass last week: “Make every step a prayer.” Whether a blessing or a curse, I strive to make every step count, make every step a prayer.
The hardest part for me is the weekends. Welcome to Crossroads. We’re going to walk cross-country! No one tells you of the logistics of this mission. We spend SO much time shuttling around, and our weekends are spent in community with parishes and speaking at masses. Socializing and public speaking aren’t my thing…. but I use these opportunities to grow. The best part of this is that, funny thing about the South, there is a huge Spanish-speaking culture. Welcome to Crossroads. You guys have to learn how to speak Spanish in three hours so you can speak at the Spanish masses! None of our group really knows Spanish. Some of us can speak it, but most of us are clueless. This fact has afforded many hours of entertainment as we pretend to be bilingual… The weekends are also the most incredible part of the journey. This is when I realize how incredibly we are being blessed. We are given so much love and respect. There is so much insecurity walking around with a PRO LIFE t-shirt on, but there is so much support for what we are doing. We are SO spoiled by the parish communities. We are fed amazingly well and shown such hospitality. The host families whom we have stayed with over the weekends are all deeply spiritual people, living their faith, and I enjoy more than anything sharing this faith with them and just joyfully discussing this mutuality which defines our whole lives.
I’m trying not to write a book, but I want to mention one last thing which pertains to what makes this mission a success and what makes all of us walkers an intimate family and truly devoted to other, to God, and to what we’re doing: humility. I was confronted by a friend before I came to LA, and I had to step back and ask myself why I am doing this. It is a twofold reason. We see a problem with the world and are doing something to change it in the way we feel called to. But it is also a very personal pilgrimage. I am out here to learn humility. Without humility God cannot work through us, we cannot deeply and sincerely love, we cannot succeed in Christ’s work. This whole summer is centered on humbling ourselves, giving ourselves to God, to our cause, and to each other. So I am learning to humble myself more and more daily…and the graces received in return are beyond anything I could have ever imagined.