This verse spoke to me as I embarked on my 4th CA Mission Walk. People ask me why I take a week to go out to California and walk so many miles. Couldn't I do it at home? After all, Arkansas has a plethora of hiking trails that many would consider more scenic than walking along roads in another state.
While I would agree our Arkansas trails are absolutely stunning, and there are plenty of stunning views in California, seeking the perfect selfie backdrop is not why I go. I go as a pilgrim, not a tourist. I go to learn that life is more than just about everything our culture says it is.
At the end of each day, I am an exhausted, exhilarated, and joyous pilgrim. I will admit, my walking companions may report I don't look like it on the outside but I assure you I feel it on the inside. Every footstep, every conversation, every scan of the horizon is a chance to seek God.
Yes, we walk for miles and miles, hour and hours; but, each step not only brings me closer to sacred spaces established over 200 years ago, but they help me see Christ along the way. He is there in the butterflies on the flowers, the birds chirping in the trees, the agricultural workers harvesting vegetables, and the people walking in front of, behind, and beside me.
When my steps start to slow, the blisters start to burn, and I feel sweat in places I didn't know could, He sends me a fellow walker to bolster my endurance with stories and conversation. They share their thoughts and families with me, lightening my steps and lifting my heart. Secretly, I marvel at how much they embody Christ for me in that moment.
And, just when I think I might have to stop, my body can't go another step, suddenly a trail angel appears. These wonderful individuals sacrifice their time, fuel, and grocery money to travel the roads, monitoring the walkers and bringing energy snacks, fruit, hydration, and even a seat to rest weary feet. We call them angels for a reason!
This year was unusually hot for October in California. There were a number of days when I just wasn't sure I'd make it the last few miles to our target endpoint and I was questioning my life choices as I walked. I would talk to God and rationalize that I'd done well that day and there's no shame in knowing when to quit. Then, He'd send me someone to remind me He was there and to help pass the distance. I am so grateful I was able to complete all 100 miles of this year's walk and to explore and pray at 3 more CA Missions.
Such a blessing to spend time walking with the Lord in all His beautiful forms, walking my 4th stretch of the Camino Real.