Updated: Nov 26, 2019
25 November 2019 - Akumal, Mexico
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
On Saturday, November 16, over 20 people joined me on the final day of my walk across the United States - from Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and down to Baker Beach. Soon after reaching Baker Beach, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, I stripped down to my swim suit and joined my son, Zach, as we ran toward the waves and then dove into the Pacific Ocean. The final weekend was everything I hoped it would be. We awoke to fog on Saturday morning, but it had lifted by the time we started crossing the bridge. As we got close to finishing the bridge crossing, we could see that we were headed back into the clouds. This window of clear sky for our bridge crossing struck me as a gift from God. Even though we could not see the Golden Gate Bridge by the time we reached Baker Beach, there were for me feelings of joy, exultation, and deep gratitude for God’s presence with me throughout the previous 8-1/2 months, for all the people who had assisted me along the way, and for all the people who showed up to join in the celebration on the final weekend. People came from seven different states and from as far away as New York City. Fifteen of us went out to dinner that night, and Beth Hester, a friend from Colorado, presented me with an amazing quilt she had made to commemorate the walk, along with a pillow that had a map of the United States on it and my route stitched across 12 of those states - in red. On Sunday, the Dean of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Young, interviewed me in The Forum - the last one offered in 2019 - and it was a wonderful way to finish up the walk, before Julia and I flew home to Colorado that evening.
And now Julia and I are in Akumal, Mexico, getting some much-needed R and R as we begin this next part of our lives together, as we enter into another time of transition.
The walk - 6 Million Steps for Kids - is over. I spent 259 days on the road, walking a total of 3,377 miles along my route, and was one day shy of taking 7 million steps. I raised over $66,000 for four different charities that serve children, and from those who gave generously, the Bright Future for Children board has already written checks to support three of those charities - the REMAR Children’s Home and School, Street Fraternity, and the recently launched “1,000 Days of Love” program of Episcopal Relief and Development that supports newborns to 6-year-olds in many countries with health initiatives and early childhood education. Early in 2020, we will make our final distribution to the Episcopal Church in Colorado, providing scholarship funds for children and youth to go to summer camp, youth retreats, and to be part of leadership training initiatives for youth.
The walk is over. My feet, which have been in various degrees of soreness since March, are getting a break, and my small left toe, which began hurting in Missouri, less than halfway into the walk, is starting to heal. Julia and I are together again, and I am not going on any extended trip without her - probably for a very long time!
But in another very real sense, the walk is not over. The BFFC board and I are still planning a final fundraiser in Colorado for early in 2020, I have begun working on a slide show so that I can meet with various groups and tell stories and share something of what I have learned in 2019, and raise more money for children in need. And, needless to say, I will be integrating what I experienced and learned on the walk for months and years to come - perhaps even for the rest of my life.
I am planning to write a book about the walk. Mostly I want to do this as a way of recording some of the amazing things that happened as I walked, and, in particular, telling stories about the amazing, generous people who started supporting me well before I began the walk, as well as the generous people who said yes to helping me while I was walking. Most of these folks made very quick decisions to help me without really knowing very much about me, and that is just part of what I am pondering with delight right now.
There is a faith journey… a growth journey… a life journey that each of us is on, and we even say in the Episcopal Church that when we die, “life is changed, not ended.” Our pilgrimage with God continues.
And so does my pilgrimage with God right now. I told my wife that I was glad that I encountered the Pacific Ocean on November 16, 2019, or I might have had to keep walking! And my body was ready to stop, I can tell you that. But I am eager to continue my journey with God/Christ/Spirit, with Julia, with family and friends. I am wondering who - of all the new folks I met along the walk - I might see again. And I am wondering what my next job will be, and how the folks that I meet in that next job will form me, and how I will rub off on them.
Thank you for supporting children in different parts of the world. Thank you for all the little and huge things that you did to help me make it across the country, not only safely, but also as a transformed man. Thank you for reading my posts and for following me on social media, for calling me and sending me encouraging texts as just the right time. Thank you for having me in your homes and feeding me and giving me a drink of water and inviting me to speak at your churches and in the schools where you work. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me and letting me love your dogs and cats, too. Thank you for the tremendous gifts of walking with me, taking me out to dinner, treating me to a college musical or a day of fly fishing or an ice cream cone. Thank you for shuttling me from and to the route or for covering a night in a motel. Thank you for believing in me, especially in those times when I felt like quitting. Thank you for nursing my wounds and offering me your listening ear, hugs, and wise words. Thank you for the times you consoled me and for the times that you challenged me to keep going. Thank you for all the ways that you affirmed me and gave generously to me, and for sharing with me what the walk meant to you.
I am so grateful to God and to you. It is beyond words, so I will stop writing now.
But know that the journey continues - God’s, yours, mine, the planet’s. In the end, “all manner of thing shall be well” - as Julian of Norwich first wrote many centuries ago. After my walk, I resonate with the truth of those words - more than ever.