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I AM

November 22, 2013

When the three Crossroads walks reached Washington, D.C. at the end of the summer, Allison requested that someone from each walk write a final blog about the end of their Crossroads journey. I wanted to do it, but I just couldn’t think of anything worth blogging about. Now, three months later, a story suddenly came to mind that I thought would be worth sharing. Sorry this is so late.

It was Friday, August 9th, and we were in a parking lot, empty of nearly everything but three nearly identical RVs, three or four support vehicles filled to overflowing with luggage, and somewhere between 35 and 40 tired pro-life walkers and Crossroads staff members. Everyone was sitting or standing in small groups, chatting excitedly about their adventures. Everyone, that is, except me.

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I was seated on the curb around the parking lot, alone, struggling to hold back tears, and hoping nobody would notice me and come to ask how I was. I’m still not sure what caused it. Perhaps it was the fact that we had just emptied the RVs out for the last time. Whatever it was, I had been struck with full force by the sudden realization that this was the end. The best summer of my life was over and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I didn’t want to go home, even a little bit. There was nothing there for me. Nothing but the same old thing there always was. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see my family…I did. I knew they were excited that I would be coming home soon and that they would want to hear all about my adventures, but that didn’t change the depressing fact that life was about to go back to ‘normal.’

I didn’t want to leave that parking lot. That would be admitting that Crossroads was over. I didn’t want to leave my new friends. I wanted to stay with them forever. Wanted to keep them all where they were within easy reach when I needed them. Wanted to stay in this pro-life community I had grown to love…with these friends who had become family over the summer. I was afraid of what awaited me back in Nevada. School? Definitely. And I was sick of thinking about that. There was nothing else waiting for me. No future as far as I could see. The whole concept frightened me and I wanted nothing more than to curl up in a corner of the RV and cry. But the RV – my home – was off limits now.

It wasn’t long before exactly what I had hoped wouldn’t happen, happened. A voice behind me said: “Hey, Bridget, are you all right?” I turned to see my team mate, Rebecca, standing over me. I tried to say I was fine, but I couldn’t, so I admitted that I was feeling down. Rebecca seated herself beside me and listened to me as I cried and poured out my concerns about leaving. That was another thing. Everyone here was so good at listening and I hated the fact that I wouldn’t have that to the same extent once I went home. When I had finished talking, Rebecca sat in silence for a moment, then got up and left, saying she would be back. I turned my head and watched her disappear behind the Central Walk RV, which we had fondly named Merle.

A moment later, she was back. She seated herself beside me again and handed me a holy card with a picture of Jesus on the front. “A guy gave this to me at a parish a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really understand it at the time. You might not understand it either, but I feel like you should have it,” Rebecca told me. I turned the prayer card over and read the back. I told Rebecca that God must have sent that guy to give her that holy card so she could give it to me. It was exactly what I had needed and it brought tears to my eyes.

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And wasn’t that exactly what I had been doing? Clinging to the past and fearing the future? I was desiring to live in the past – this summer that had been such a wonderful experience. I didn’t want to let go of what I’d had for the past three months. Didn’t want to move on. I wanted to avoid the future – the uncertainty that awaited me at home. I was afraid of what was coming because I had no idea what it would be. All I knew was that the last thing I wanted was to go back to doing school and being trapped in a life that never seemed to change or move forward.

I was scared to leave Crossroads behind because it was here that I had finally found myself. I finally knew who I really was and I was terrified that I would lose myself again if I returned home. I had finally found some friends who were near my own age and who shared my beliefs and I feared their being so far away that I couldn’t simply run to them every time I needed someone to talk to. I hated the idea of leaving because I was afraid. I was living in the past and the future instead of in the present.

It was that simple prayer card that made me realize, at last, that there was nothing to be afraid of. I still didn’t want to go home, but I wasn’t afraid anymore. Just disappointed. I will always cherish the memories of my wonderful summer on Crossroads. I will never forget the friends I made on my journey and the countless times of laughter and love that I shared with my team mates. The future will always be foreboding, but I don’t need to live in fear of what is to come. Instead, I must live in the present moment. I simply have to remember that God is with me, giving me opportunities to serve Him and others NOW. As long as I remember that, the past isn’t so far away and the future is not so dark. God is with me now, just as He was with me during my time on Crossroads, and just as He will be with me tomorrow. There is no reason to be afraid.

My Crossroads journey has ended, but new roads are ever opening up before me. Roads I can only imagine. And as long as I remember that God is with me on the road I am traveling right now, I will always have the assurance of knowing that He’ll be with me on the roads I have not yet discovered. He is with me always.

That simple prayer card means a lot to me and, while I may never know exactly why I ended up with it, I believe that it was truly a message from God…a message that was sent to me at the moment when I needed it most. A message sent to remind me that God is not “I WAS” or “I WILL BE.”

…a message to remind me that God is “I AM.”

Bridget Shurtliff
Central Walk 2013

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cecile permalink
    November 22, 2013 9:33 am

    What a great message for all of us.
    THANK YOU
    The Peace of God is with you.

  2. Miss Vanda permalink
    November 26, 2013 12:25 pm

    Simply beautiful…I am crying as I read your blog. So many wonderful things come out of a summer of Crossroads. Sometimes its much later the reality will hit like it did for you. Many will realize it years down the road. How wonderful for us older Catholics to have such hope in people like you, “our future”…God Bless you, Bridget and All the Walkers, past, present and future….
    Love, Miss Vanda

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