16 May 2019 Aurora, Kentucky
This walk across the country is challenging me in ways that I did not expect. Yes, my feet get sore, but that is really one of the lesser challenges. The deeper challenges are emotional and, I believe, spiritual, too.
God seems to be teaching me something new about sacrifice. When I google the word at Merriam-Webster.com, one definition I find is “to suffer loss of, give up, renounce… especially for an ideal, belief, or end.”
I think the main thing I am giving up right now is the special day-to-day life together that Julia and I created over the past 32 years. Especially our beginning-of-day and end-of-day and Fridays-off-together times, those I miss - a lot!
The predictability and comfort of a steady paycheck, I have given that up - at least for now.
The knowing what bed I am going to sleep in each night, or going to our closet to pick out my clothes in the morning - that I have given up. (Again, at least for now.)
When Walter Latimer and I were doing some of the route planning last year, and we got to the transition from Tennessee to Kentucky, I can tell you that I had a certain picture in my mind of what walking “The Trace” in the Land Between the Lakes would be like. In a nutshell, I envisioned walking along a road and seeing two large lakes - Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake - on either side of me. That probably sounds ridiculous to those of you from Tennessee and Kentucky, but that’s what I envisioned! In other words, I envisioned the lakes, not the LAND between the lakes! Here is what I wrote in my journal this morning:
“I thought I’d be walking on this sliver of land and see these two big lakes on both sides of me! And… I never saw either lake yesterday! I experienced the LAND between the lakes. The birds, the bison, and especially the trees and the forest, the rain, the quiet (very few cars), my feet on the pavement, the box turtle in the middle of the road (that I moved off the road), the picnic table… just in time for lunch, the sky lightening and patches of blue as the rain stopped, Jackie at the South Welcome Station, the horses at Wranglers Camp, the scarlet tanagers! It was good, it was beautiful, it was a cacophony of bird songs and screeches (from the hawks), but it wasn’t great vistas of lakes. It was nothing like what I had pictured in my mind! It was not wrong… not bad… just very different from what I thought it would be.”
I needed to give up my expectation of what I thought I’d see, in order to take note of what was right in front of me.
And my time apart from Julia? As tough as it is, the walk still seems right. The timing is right, I have the health and stamina and determination to do it right now, Zach and Hannah are getting established in their careers, it was time for St. Ambrose to get a new priest, and the dream still lights me up!
When Mary Morrissey talks about the five questions to test a dream - Does it light you up? Does it align with your core values? Will it require you to grow? Do you need God to help you accomplish your dream? Will it be of service to others? - what I don’t believe she says, which Julia said to me the others day, is “Perhaps at any given time, one of these questions is more ‘front and center’ than the others.”
I still have passion for my dream, and it aligns with my core values, etc., but some days the question that is front and center is “Will this dream require you to grow?”
This dream is requiring me to ask for help in ways that I never knew I could. This dream is teaching me that it’s okay to say, “Yes, it’s a fundraiser. Please go to my website and think about making a donation to help children.” This dream is teaching me that just because I miss Julia tremendously, it doesn’t mean that I am doing the wrong thing, or that I have done something bad. This dream is teaching me that sometimes my expectations are really off the mark! This dream is teaching me what a blessing, what a relief, and what a release tears can be. This dream is teaching me that so many things I learned over the years - from my parents and as an adult - are serving me while I walk. This dream is teaching me how strong I am, how determined I am, what a penchant for perseverance I have, but more than any of that - how gracious God is in providing everything that I need for each day. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
Just because a dream has times of great challenge, it doesn’t mean that I heard wrong, or that I’m “doing it wrong.” As someone said to me the other day, “You really didn’t expect to walk across the country for eight months and not have any bad weather, did you?”
No, I didn’t. That’s something I didn’t expect. And it was sure was nice when the forecast was for 4-5 hours of rain yesterday, and it stopped raining by 10 am!
What challenges are you experiencing as you pursue your dream? What are you learning about yourself and about God, as you follow your dream?