I feel it’s important at the start to make clear that this journey, for me, is a spiritual one. There isn’t any way in which I would want to imagine or try to accomplish this task without my God. He is the source and sponsor of this dream, and it is through Him that I will or will not accomplish whatever comes from this. Each step so far has been accomplished with His prompting and providence, and I will not make it if He is not beside and before me in every step of 2,660 miles.
I am not being amusing or careless when I call this a pilgrimage. I am sure the journey will be amazing for a thousand reasons, but its core is faith. I want to walk with my Lord, both symbolically and literally (in the traditional sense of the word). My thoughts and actions and words, Lord willing, will reflect that.
I’ve always felt closest to God in nature. The glories, beauties, terrors, and wonders of the natural world make me reflect on the glories, beauties, terrors, and wonders of their author. I am a man of faith and I do not want to give the impression that this is only a personal challenge, or just a fun excursion with Christ tacked on as a kind of little flag of identity.
I admit to wanting to be the Christian that folks on the trail meet who breaks their perception of what Christians are like. This is a big change: I really have to grow to reach out and connect with others, because it doesn’t come at all naturally to me. It’s part of my personal path, and something that started before I had any hopes of hiking the trail this year.
I hesitate to write at all on this subject, and that is to my shame. A part of me wants to simply continue on in a chirpy, positive light, keeping my faith unhidden, but also unheralded. I mean to keep God close and bring joy and hope to the people I encounter on and off the trail by trying to act as much like Christ as I am able. I’m not plotting to harangue my fellow hikers, but I want to be fully who I am without shame or regret. Part of this odyssey is all about being openly and honestly myself–to give of myself completely and walk away from the posturing, from the false front, from the masks I wear in everyday encounters. I’m really hoping that it’s an ethic and lifestyle I hang on to long after the trek concludes, but this is my chance to give myself time and space to practice and learn and listen. I’m still going to be as goofy and pompous and anal-retentive and verbose and ridiculous as always, but I want no pretense as to my motivation and sustenance. Christ cannot be only a passenger; I cannot step forth without Him at the helm.
I hope dearly that I don’t drive away readers or my fellow sojourners. This is too critical to the soul and center of this journey for me to stay quiet about. I expect the journey to change me in fantastic ways, most of which I can’t even imagine. I wait upon Him to show me what He will do with me and through me during this time; I’m nervous and hopeful and excited to see what that will be.