Updated: Jun 10, 2019
22 May 2019 - Cairo, Illinois
As I make my way across the United States, I am almost always walking along roads - federal and state highways and roads. Now and then I walk along a divided highway with wide shoulders. When I arrive in a city or enter some of the towns, there are often sidewalks that I can use. But the vast majority of the time, I have been on two-lane highways, and there have been huge discrepancies with respect to how much of a shoulder I have to walk on. When I skirted around Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, there were some rather scary stretches where there was basically no shoulder and not really anywhere to go, especially as cars came around a curve. Other times I have encountered a 3-foot-wide shoulder, which feels roomy to me. A 6-foot-wide shoulder is positively luxurious! Most of the time, I walk along the little white line painted along the edge of the road, facing traffic, and I often step off onto the shoulder when a car is approaching. Since I wear bright clothing, cars often see me coming, and if there is no car coming in the opposite direction, the drivers will often make space for me by crossing the middle line. When they do that, I always try to wave a “thank you.” Sometimes drivers cannot move over because a car is coming from the opposite direction. And sometimes they could move over, but they don’t.
This walk has definitely made me think more about how I want to drive, when I see a walker or a bicyclist in the future! I can tell you it is a huge blessing when folks slow down, when they move over (assuming they can). Now and then someone will even come to a complete stop, to allow for an oncoming car to pass before they go around me.
These dynamics make me think about how you and I make space in our lives for other people.
It seems to me that Jesus made all kinds of space for people. Even when he was weary - think about the woman at the well or when he and the disciples were trying to get away for a break and the crowd descended upon them - Jesus made time and space. He saw the needs of those around him and offered himself… his love… his power… his healing touch.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)
“Willing to yield.”
There have been so many people who have been willing to make space for me in the first 80 days of my walk across the United States. So many of them have been willing to yield when they have seen me on the highway. So many others have made space for me to stay in their homes, and allowed me to speak at their adult forums or at their school assemblies. Others have given up their pulpit - not something all clergy are eager to do - so that I could preach. So many people have made space in their lives to serve on the board of my non-profit or to come to support team meetings in our home over the past 1+ years. Others have made time and space to pray for me, to send me an encouraging text, to listen to my stories from the road, to cook me meals, to take me out to dinner, or even to a musical! They have picked me up at the end of a day of walking and/or deposited me back at that point the next morning, so that I could resume my walking. The most recent examples are the faithful people of the Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal) in Cairo, Illinois, including their priest, The Rev. James Muriuki, and their Senior Warden (and the Chief of Police for the city of Cairo), Len Harris, and his wife, Dana.
I have been the beneficiary of so many people making space in their lives for me, and I am incredibly grateful. And I’m aware that all these acts of love and grace are a reflection of how our God makes space and time to love us, too.
Thank you for ALL the ways that you make space to love others.
Thank you for ALL the ways that you make space to love God.
This kind of space-making definitely makes the world a better place!