6 March 2019 - Ash Wednesday
It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the 40 days of Lent. It is a season when we often focus anew on one or more of the time-honored disciplines of Christianity, like prayer, fasting, giving to others, self-examination, etc. I did not fast today, partly because I was on the third day of my walk across the United States as I raise money for organizations that serve children. It didn’t seem prudent to give up food at a time when I am burning twice as many calories as I normally do!
It has been my great pleasure to have my nephew, Kyle Taylor, join me for the first three days of the walk. It looks like he will be with me for the first week, which was a pleasant surprise. Capt. Taylor is one of the people overseeing the training of new Army recruits at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, which happens to be not too far from my route. The gift of Kyle’s presence is one of the many gifts that God has sent my way in recent days and weeks.
My wife, Julia, and our wonderful friends, Roger Cauthon and Sue Lawson Cauthon, accompanied me to Charleston and saw Kyle and I off for the beginning of the walk in Folly Beach. Virginia and Dick Bartels offered us amazing hospitality on Johns Island, and even took Julia and I to see my childhood home on James Island. I have been able to teach or speak at two different churches over the last few days - Circular Congregational in Charleston (where my family attended when I was a boy) and the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville. Kyle and I have also been graced with the hospitality of Jackie Simons in Summerville, who had not only hosted us in her lovely home but shuttled us back and forth to beginning and ending points for our daily walks.
People of faith often think about what to give up or what to take on during the Lenten season. It seems to me that I am taking on what folks are so graciously offering - love, service, kindness, hospitality, financial donations on behalf of children, a bed to sleep in, a hot shower, a place to have breakfast or dinner. What I am letting go of - not just during Lent but during this entire walk across the country - is my “normal routine” of the past; my sense of what I think will happen each day, my life in Colorado with Julia and friends there, the work of parish priest that I have done for the past 27+ years. Some days I know where I am going to lay my head at night, some days I will wake up, begin walking, and have no idea where I will sleep that night. I remember Jesus saying something about foxes having holes, the birds of the air having nests, but the Son of Man having nowhere to lay his head. As one of his followers, I will be letting go of control, letting go of certainty - do we ever have certainty in this life? - letting go of what I think should happen, and developing entirely new “trust muscles,” as Julia calls them.
May you observe a blessed and holy Lent.
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Thanks for the love and healing light that you bring to the world!