Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
My stay in Zafra has been extended for a few days due to the rainy weather and our hosts' gracious offer to sit it out in their home. And, as it turns out, My daughter Olivia will be walking with me to Seville and beyond.
With all this time on my hands I've been able to meditate on our walk thus far a little more deeply. While the distance we've covered, the speaking I've done regarding peace, and the 'success' we've enjoyed in being hosted these past two weeks is somewhat gratifying to one as task oriented as myself, I have also been aware that I spend a great deal of time worrying about funding and lodging.
I look at two of my mentors, Peace Pilgrim and Wijnand Boon, and I find myself having neither the Faith of the one nor the public skills of the other. Walk until given a place to stay, and fast until given food as Peace Pilgrim did? Accept no money, ask for nothing? I would surely die of exposure or starvation! On the other hand, what do I have to do to get offers, even multiple offers daily for food and lodging as Wijnand Boon does because of his multimedia skills? I have no such skills. The stats on my blog aren't very promising. I'm not so sure anyone will read this, in fact.
In both Peace Pilgrim's and Wijnand's ways, I sense a lack of worrying about tomorrow. And while Peace Pilgrim's way was very different from Wijnand's-- hers being old school Faith in God, his being a modern faith in high tech multimedia-- they both based their journeys on a common faith in humanity.
Meanwhile, I sometimes feel confident I'll find the means to get to Egypt, but I often wring my hands wondering how I'll get the support to make it without the Faith of a Saint or the skills of a journalist. I often doubt my 'leading from God' and start to think I am simply delusional. Peace pilgrimage to Egypt... Ha! Let me just quietly and humbly withdraw from this over-ambitious enterprise.
But then I remember how I have felt compelled to do this for so many years; compelled against my better judgement. Reading about Peace Pilgrim fueled this Compulsion, but lacking her great Faith I always pushed the concept of walking to the Middle East back into the Impossible Dream file. Peace Pilgrim was a great spiritual leader more than anything, and that kind of greatness was not in me. Furthermore, I had a life to deal with, bills and rent to pay, a family to support. And I enjoy sitting by the fire while watching a good film on DVD. I love my wife. I love our little rented house, our dogs, our cat, our pond, garden, chickens. Why would I risk everything for a long walk? But every time I took a short walk there was the compulsion to go long again.
There were a few occasions when I made a tentative decision to go: after I'd had an argument with Linda, my wife, or when feeling hopelessly directionless, or when a strong sense of social obligation made me sure I had to roam the Earth finding inner peace and preaching world peace. But these were mere excuses. The real reason I felt compelled to make a pilgrimage was simply because I was supposed to do so. There was no rational reason. It has been a call to a vocation. A genuine call to follow the Leading of God.
Wijnand appeared some two months ago as an angel of some kind, I reckon. He made the pilgrimage idea seem easy, even comfortable. While highly intelligent and multi-talented, he was an otherwise ordinary guy whom you could talk to about ordinary things. We talked about his sore feet, camping, the Blues, iPhones, Monty Python. While a determined and courageous peace pilgrim himself, there was no unattainable, lofty, Peace Pilgrim in him. I was greatly encouraged.
When Linda gave me her blessing, and Olivia praised the idea, it took me another two or three days to make the decision. I immediately asked my step-mother for financial support. I started a blog, announced my intentions. Within a week after walking with Wijnand, there was no going back. After another week, I was fretting. Nobody seemed to take my intentions seriously, or they seemed only remotely interested. It was soon very clear to me that my pilgrimage would not be Wijnand's. My tent would be much better used than his; my meals less sumptuous. Comfort would not be a factor as much as anxiety. Doubt set in, but it was too late.
But Wijnand was an angel because he was the one who pulled me into the void. The very void God has been calling me into for so long. The void I have been turning my back on. Wijnand was the very human example I needed to take the first step.
I still haven't reconciled myself to the fact that this pilgrimage will not follow some comforting pattern. Neither Peace Pilgrim's nor Wijnand's journey will be mine (or my daughter's). And I have as yet no idea how it will progress, nor what patterns will develop. As it stands now, most of our food and lodging has come about through Couchsurfing; our hosts have been nothing but exceedingly kind and generous. Where there is no Couchsurfing, however, we camp near the road, carrying bread, cheese and chourico to nourish ourselves. We have been given food twice, without asking, a la Peace Pilgrim. And we've been given lodging twice outside of Couchsurfing. But, while I am doing a Peace Pilgrimage, I am no Peace Pilgrim. Neither am I Wijnand Boon. So it is clearly my more difficult task to find my own way; to have a faith of my own, in both God and in humanity. Do not worry, seek the Kingdom of God. I know this, but from the outside in, not from the inside out. Knowing this from the inside out is going to be the greatest challenge. Walking, meanwhile, is a piece of cake.