Thoughts from Places: Newbie Edition
Hi, my name is Karen, from Ann Arbor Michigan, went to school at Caltech, and I am the newest member of the northern walk. I joined the team in Minnesota, about halfway done with the journey. Everyone was nice and welcoming, and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to remember everyone’s name. I was a little thrown back, and I mean this in a nice way, how “Catholic” everyone was. A girl was talking about how tired her arms were from holding babies, and some guys were arguing about which Saint was the coolest martyr. Things like this were lacking from my day to day life in college, so it’s been great being in an environment where everything Catholic related is fair game.
So far this experience has been much more fun than I had anticipated. I joined the walk the same weekend we stayed with a really awesome host family and went tubing on a lake, so I started crossroads with a mini vacation.
My first week of walking quickly brought things into an actual perspective. I’m a short girl, so it was hard at first to keep up with the 4 miles an hour pace that the northern walk strives for. Also, I have never done morning and night prayer so often before, and I still don’t know all the words to the sung Latin version of the Hail Holy Queen. I do know that that it’s pretty and gets stuck in my head often. Also, I realized that this journey is not just a physical battle, but also a time for great spiritual growth. Never have I had such a desire to sit at daily mass and pray with my peers so often. I was blown away by the strong spiritual devotion all my teammates here seem to have. I had gone to a small engineering school in California before this, and it was rare to see any sort of religious devotion of any kind. I am grateful that Crossroads has given me a place to refurbish this spiritual life.
As we’ve been attending daily mass, and occasionally some adorations and visiting some shrines along the way, I’ve had a thought that I’d like to share. One of my reasons for joining this was for a chance to exercise and maybe lose some weight. As I’ve quickly learned, Crossroads is not about losing weight. A previous blogger has mentioned our group called FAT – food awareness team. Anyway, I have now realized that this is not the right way to go about life. We should actually be looking to God with all our desires. For example, I might end up living a healthier lifestyle while walking here than I did in the past, but I am no longer doing crossroads solely for that purpose. We’re here to change lives and witness the Culture of Life. Through crossroads, I was able to transform a selfish personal desire into a desire to do God’s work. Overall, I think the spiritual benefits of being here have completely outweighed the physical benefits. I feel a calming peace that I haven’t in a while, and I feel a confidence in my beliefs as a Pro Life Catholic that I haven’t felt in years. I want these things to stay with me more than the exercise habits that develop here. When we finish in 3 weeks, I hope I will be able to continue praying to God to help me find ways to steer my personal desires towards serving him, not myself.
-Karen Dowling, Northern Walk 2013