Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A letter to a church in Atkinson, Nebraska

Dear Faith Wesleyan Church,

Today is the 65th day of my journey. I am walking cross-country from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas. For the first part of my trip, when I'd have to camp in a town, I would normally find some shadowy spot to set up my tent--some place where I wouldn't be seen and where I wouldn't bother anyone.

I've learned, though, that traveling in this manner--solitarily, secretively, pridefully--is not the best way to travel.

There are many qualities that make a good traveler. Among them you could list strong legs, a sense of direction, and knowledge of other languages. But perhaps the most important is knowing how to take a favor.

In taking a favor, not only will I be more comfortable, less hungry, and better rested, but I will allow a bond to form between the giver and the taker of the favor. It provides me the chance me to engage with people I normally wouldn't engage with. I give them my story, they give me theirs, and we all feel richer in the end. I have allowed myself to receive many favors in Atkinson, and not only have I been rewarded with food, warmth, and this building in which I will comfortably rest tonight, but I will leave town with a store of stories, and a renewed faith in the goodness of people.

I should admit that I'm not a religious person. Far from it. If I have a religion, it's the belief that we ought to care for our fellow man and for Mother Nature. While I feel slightly guilty taking a favor from this church and you kind practitioners, I gather that our similarities are greater than our differences, and that maybe I shouldn't feel like such an outsider in here. And while I doubt that many of you are planning on going on a long walk across the country, perhaps you'll still be moved to know that, if you did go on such a walk, you'd find open homes and open hearts all along the way.

Happy trails,



monikernc said...

merry christmas. i woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee, and pulled up your blog, as i do every morning, hoping for another post that will tell me where you are and what you are doing. i am fascinated by your journey. i love checking in on you each day. always curious about where you slept, who you have met, what encounters made it an adventure. i find myself thinking about where you are walking as i drive to the store and wondering what story you'll tell next as i send another droll email at work. i can hear the frozen ground crunching under your feet as you walk across those vast fields under those beautiful flat blue skies. you're right: the pipeline is wrong; we need to rethink how we live our lives; we need to reevaluate what is important and discern what is need from what is merely want. today is christmas and a new year will soon start. the mayans were misunderstood and we're still here. so, now what?
you remind me of Mildred Lisette Norman. she walked for decades ('53-'81) across the country. my mother (a devout catholic) had Norman's book 'Peace Pilgrim' and i read it to better understand her faith, but what i discovered is that peaceful transformations can occur through simple acts based on one's beliefs. and here, through your journey, i discover each day that this simple truth still holds and in a cynical world on a christmas morning i needed to know that. thank you.

Anonymous said...

You are a remarkable human being and son. Merry Christmas! Wish you were here.
Mom and dad

Michael said...

Here's an article about another protester in case you haven't seen it.


Molly! said...

What app do you use to post blogs updates from your iPad?

David said...

I definitely agree with this post. In all of my travels across the country I have had wonderful hosts. Some meetings were pre-arranged, but others just kind of worked out. So far my best experience was when I was biking on Thanksgiving this year. I talked about it a bit at http://speakersvoice.blogspot.com/2012/11/happy-thanksgiving.html
Keep traveling Ken.

Juanita Rice said...

Dear Ken: I was very happy to see your progress report. We are all sitting here in Nebraska, glad we met you, and applauding your courage and grit. Interesting, and sad, encounter with the stranded driver and thoughts about 'a black guy..."
We all have to make the effort to prevent our fears and inexperience from harming others. Love from Fillmore County, NE.

monikernc - again said...

just as a follow up and i have to add that i have never heard of mainstream media talking about her but npr is doing a story on Peace Prilgrim Norman - she started her walk across the country on new year's day in 1953, so they are doing a profile...
happy, happy, happy new year!! no XL in 2013 is one good resolution.
have a great day and a wonderful year!
p.s. thanks for finding the dog's owner. excellent cyber sleuthing!

Anonymous said...

is it blogger or is something else wrong? i haven't seen an update since 12/29 and must admit i'm a little worried about you. is all ok?