I did it, but not as I hoped. To my dismay, after two 20-mile days of my walk to Cadillac, I had some serious blisters and signs of ‘black toenail.’ To prevent worse, I rested a full day on Tuesday, applied bandages, and adjusted my shoes and socks. I resumed my walk on Wednesday and Thursday, took another rest on Friday to do my radio program, and finished Saturday, well short of my hope to do it all in five straight days. It was hard not to feel like I let myself and others down.
On the other hand, you not only did it, you exceeded expectations. As of May 4, 163 folks ‘went the distance,’ and over $16,000 was pledged, with much already in hand. I suppose I should have gone another thirty miles, and maybe I will sometime and soon.
Except for my poor feet, it was a consoling time. Walking overland reminds me of the largeness of the world and the smallness of me. To see the sun go from morning to midday to afternoon, to feel both chill and warmth, to see the land as it changes slowly from hills to fields, towns to farms, somehow eases the anxiety society and its discontents produces. I get a taste of the ‘peace of wild things,’ as Wendell Berry calls it.
He also speaks of the ‘forethought of grief,’ which means the knowledge of death, but also the smaller sorrows that wait for us in our busy lives. Deadlines, tasks, expectations, goals and ambitions all drive us to live not in the present but in the future, for something not yet. To walk for days is to have only that on my to-do list, a task measured only by steps or miles, not by goals and objectives. To fall short is thus not a failure, for the path ahead does not care how many miles you go or how long it takes you.
When I return from such journeys, that wisdom stays with me for a while, which is the real reward. We have so arranged the world that our worth is mostly taken by merely human measures like wealth and power and status. To remember that the world beyond us is vastly greater in every sense, and that it does not care how much you own or control, is part of what religion does.
But it too, being a human thing, is seduced by the glitter of power and wealth. In the parlance of the gospel, it confuses God and Mammon.
The church, in its largest sense, needs the ‘peace of wild things’ even more than individuals do. Whatever power it has comes from this, and whatever it does must also come from it. I am not sure how to do that, but I am quite sure it must be done.
|Fred Wooden walked 200,000 steps between Grand Rapids and Cadillac.
You can still contribute, and help him take those steps for FSC, by calling the church office, going to this Giving page, or visit the Facebook page where you can find more photos, comments, and details
Fred reaching Cedar Springs on Sunday evening