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.

Categories: Pacific Crest Trail, Preparation | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Pilgrimage

  1. cryptopur

    This was already a fascinating story Mike and I was excited for you when I first heard about your sabbatical.

    But here you say “Pilgrimage” and to be honest something wells up inside of em that I don’t have a name for. It’s something that’s mixed up with words like sober, holy, sacrifice, and destiny.

    The word pilgrimage is practically missing from our modern vocabulary and I’ll be fascinated to see where this journey takes you, where our Dad take you, and your report from the frontiers of faith.

  2. Thank you for your generous thoughts, sir. Those are some of the same feelings that well up in me, and I look forward to sharing the journey with all of you.

  3. Positivewins

    I very much appreciate your perspective here. Most Christians are like you – humble, reverent. The negative media portrayal fools many people – and who does that serve?. The Lord will walk with you, but also test you in ways you may not be able to imagine. But recognize those test for what they are when they come! He wants you to succeed!

    • Thanks! It’s true–rereading this, it sounds a bit as if this would be a new thing, and of course it isn’t: thousands of Christians have this kind of heart. The ones who don’t are the ones who get the press, and the ones that those outside the faith so often have in mind. I suppose it’s a reminder to myself of what I’m striving to be.

  4. Anthony Thomas Michael Slusser

    So, son of mine, you understand the depth of challenge in the “pilgrimage”. It is not one of physical strength, or braggadosia, or personal fortitude, or “finding oneself”. These can be done at the gym,with too much imbibing, at work, and in the mirror of your relationships. It is in fact giving over to something greater than we do or can know. To walk with “The Artist” of the landscape and have Him aside you telling you why every pine needle, pebble, scurrying ant, magnificent waterfall, crystal covered crags, and blood red cloud crowned sunset is what it is, why it is, and where it is.
    Not found among the throngs of men, quiet of cloisters, delving in the depths of the collective written wisdom of ages, or the recent extrapolations of so called science whose theories come and go as new knowledge breaks apart the predecessor idea under the overwhelming power of new “discoveries” that point back to “The Artist”.
    It is the longing for, pursuit, cojoling, and acquiring of wisdom, if she will allow you. She wraps herself in the shadows and beckons you to find her. She covers herself with the the the morning mist and hides behind each rock and tree. “The Artist” is her painter and His breath has given her life. Some say she comes with age, but she really allows herself discovered to the passionate seeker. It is a love affair of the “The Artist’s” heart that allows her to be a parachlete to those who seek Him. Some call her Spirit. She is wisdom.
    It will not bring you fame, fortune. or even satisfaction. It will bring a lifelong contentment in knowing your God and His great love for all His children. Though He chooses not to be present at this time, He gives a romance that is never ending with one who is dearest and nearest to His heart.
    I pray you success, health, safety, and strength. But even more, I pray you Wisdom as your companion.

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