After about a month of deliberation, prayer, meditation, and planning, I’m setting off on another pilgrimage tomorrow.
It won’t be nearly as ambitious as my across-the-country attempt, in terms of distance. As far as my final destination, I’m waiting to see how it goes, only because I’ve already had the experience of saying, “I’m walking this far!”, complete with fanfare and dramatic emails written to everyone in my contact list, only to have it all blow up in my face.
So I’m trying to take it one day at a time and give each day over to God. If the Spirit moves me to keep walking, I’ll keep going. If it’s time to turn back after a day, I’ll turn back.
I will say that I’ll be walking north along the California coast.
There are a few things I’m doing different this time around that I didn’t do last time:
1. I’m starting at the beginning of summer, as opposed to the end, so it should be much warmer.
2. I’m bringing supplies: extra clothing, food, water, sleeping bag, etc.
3. I’m planning my route more thoroughly.
4. I’m trying to stay as open as possible to the guidance of the Spirit. Each day, I try to search myself and offer up any unresolved or doubtful parts of my being to the light of examination. I ask myself why I’m doing this, and I look closely to see if my answer have any ring of falseness. That being said, it’s hard to be objective with one’s self, so I also…
5. …have told people about it before setting off. This has been met with mixed responses. Some have been supportive and encouraging. Others have disapproved.
I had one conversation with a friend of mine that was particularly painful, and I realized that I was afraid his disapproval and the disapproval of my other friends and family. When I can hear the disappointment in their voice, it hits me right to the core, and it hurts.
Pain is my greatest fear. That fear has dictated more choices I’ve made in life than I care to admit.
I seriously considered abandoning this whole enterprise because I was afraid of disappointing so many people all over again.
For the longest time, I’ve felt that the thing standing between us and God is the thing we fear the most. Not that anything truly separates us from God, but fear prevents us from being able to feel God’s presence.
When I was a kid, I heard my pastor say that the commandment most often quoted in the Bible is “Fear not.”
When I’m deep in prayer, those are the words that rise out of my heart. “Don’t be afraid.”
During this pilgrimage, I wish to confront my fear of pain, holding on to God all the while, knowing that of myself I can do nothing.
I’ll admit it: I’m terrified right now. Excited but terrified. I’m really afraid of making the wrong decision yet again. I feel like the Spirit is calling me to walk again, but how can I be 100% sure? I feel a pushing and an urging, and it feels like the right move, down in my gut, once I get past all the fear and anxiety, but how do I really know?
To that affect, this prayer, written by Thomas Merton, has been helpful:
O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.