So, Tell Me About Crossroads…
“So, Molly, how was Crossroads?”
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adequately answer this question. This blog was an attempt. But even documenting a few anecdotes and analyzing a few sweet and bitter moments could not summarize an entire summer of incredible experiences.
Let’s face it, I couldn’t even keep up with my blog the last few weeks out of sheer exhaustion. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland went by so quickly.
Still, I will try to tell you what it was like.
Each day of that last month, I just looked forward to the end of walking. My eyes were on the prize of walking to DC. And walk we did. It’s 2,438 miles from San Francisco to Washington D.C., and by our calculations we walked over 2,500 miles over the course of our route. What an amazing adventure!
This summer, I learned to be flexible. Things could change in an instant. Every preconception I had about Crossroads flew out the door. Our van tires fell flat from nail holes twice. One day we locked our keys in the car. Daily Mass was not always available. I slept on table-beds, couches, floors, sleeping bags, and host family’s beds. We ran. Yeah. I, the girl who did not train before Crossroads, ran. One day, for fun, we ran 81 miles as a relay – about 10 miles per person! It was kind of a big deal.
And then our RV died. So for eight weeks, we lived off of fast food and made ourselves at home in motels.
Yet people were constantly looking out for us. Strangers stopped to give us cool drinks and snacks. Police officers came to check on our van many times. Once, on a bitterly cold day, two officers stopped thinking I was homeless and offered me a ride.
Soon though, the running joke became that “Molly knows everybody.” At every major stop, I would run into folks I knew or had connections with (priests, radio hosts, pro-life leaders, family friends, friends of friends, a religious sister who teaches at my parish school, a religious sister who attends my college, my future RD, on and on). In the picture, I met a friend from college when I spoke at her home parish. My teammates started betting on how many people I would know at the next stop!
And through it all, there were new experiences. I tried chewing tobacco (ew), year old applesauce (fine), a salt flat (not terrible), and the Great Salt Lake (UGH!). For the first time in my life, I walked through a drive-thru, shot a gun, and drove an RV (and even floored it and went off-roading in it). Our walk leader read us bedtime stories, backed the RV into a pole, and scared me half to death by waking me up from a dead sleep by slamming on the window of the van yelling. But I got back at him by flat-tiring his shoe.
I witnessed the majesty of the great outdoors, and all the creatures that call it home: wild horses, antelope, coyotes, beavers, bison, moose, elk, marmots, and even a bear. Throughout the United States, I found solace in beautiful cathedrals, basilicas and churches where the dear One is ever present.
Oh yes. Out on the road, I found God. He is so near to us when we seek Him. Often, the only way to pass the time was through prayer. It was a constant conversation that grew sweeter and stronger the more I cultivated it. I wanted to draw closer and closer to His Heart. And is not that our end – to grow in love?
It was unforgettable. I know now that I will never fully be able to sum it up or express it. But let me tell you: it was worth it.
Central Walk, 2014
I, I did it all / I owned every second / That this world could give / I saw so many places / The things that I did / Yeah, with every broken bone / I swear I lived. ~I Lived, One Republic