New Pilgrimage Walk

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.


One thought on “New Pilgrimage Walk

  1. Hi Daryl Watson. I am so excited for you. You can do it. You are as ready as you will ever be. I left a week after i said i would for my 3 month walk to the Gulf of Mexico from Ohio. I kept finding excuses not to go just yet. I kept saying “I’m leaving tomorrow” and then wouldn’t. More people than not were against me going and that had me questioning things ALOT. People were so concerned for my safety. It just kept feeling not right to go when for months of planning it had felt so certain. I know now that I was just scared out of my gourd and fear is powerful. So after a week of deliberation, I stopped saying i was leaving tomorrow and took a day to myself and just meditated on fear. As Seth Godin says “The fearless person is well aware of the fear she faces. The fear, though, becomes a compass, not a barrier. It becomes a way to know what to do next, not an evil demon to be extinguished. When we deny our fear, we make it stronger. When we reassure the voice in our head by rationally reminding it of everything that will go right, we actually reinforce it.
    Pushing back on fear doesn’t make us brave and it doesn’t make us fearless. Acknowledging fear and moving on is a very different approach, one that permits it to exist without strengthening it.
    Life without fear doesn’t last very long–you’ll be run over by a bus (or a boss) before you know it. The fearless person, on the other hand, sees the world as it is (fear included) and then makes smart (and brave) decisions.”
    Without telling everyone that i was really going this time, I left the next day unannounced, feeling more afraid than i ever had in my life. But what was different about that day is that I could feel a strength and a bravery arising from that fear, not as a combative to that fear. I was totally in touch with the fear instead of trying to talk myself out of it. So my advice to you is to leave when you are absolutely scared shitless, not when you feel calm and ready. Its like when Luke Skywalker told Yoda “I’m not afraid” and Yoda replied “You will be,” and then he repeated it for dramatic effect….”You will be.”
    You are not in danger of making a wrong decision in doing this. You must free your mind from right and wrong when it comes to this. I believe your soul needs to do this, for reasons that aren’t clear to you now (or may never be). But you don’t need to know why your soul needs to do this (that’s your mind and your ego), you just need to start walking, its that simple. Many won’t understand why you are doing such a thing but that’s ok. We always expect people to understand us, but how can they? People do things all the time that you don’t understand, right? They are guided by other forces than you. Just concern yourself with your guides. Don’t worry about disappointing anyone. Your first attempt didn’t disappoint anyone nearly as much as it disappointed yourself. In fact, your first attempt (don’t call it a failure) inspired and enlightened a fuck ton of people thanks to the radio interview…not that that’s a reason to do this. You have got to be gentle and forgiving with yourself if this is going to work this time. if you need someone to talk to who might have some idea of what you’re feeling please don’t hesitate to contact me. I myself have no regrets about my walk (except for maybe coming back!) and i know you won’t either. I constantly draw upon all that i learned from it. Just do it! You can, you can! You have strength in you that you are just beginning to discover. Also keep in mind….this doesn’t have to be a big deal. There’s nothing extraordinary about putting one foot in front of the other. Your ego is making this into a bigger production than it has to be.
    Peace be with you,
    Sarah Baker


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