Written by The Rev. Canon Anna Carmichael
This morning we began Day 2 of #thepilgrimageofhope at Kerman UMC with a shared Eucharistic service. Pastor Jola presided and Bp David preached. Thanks to the kindness and servant ministry of Deacon Nancy Anne Key, I was provided with some necessities from home, including sneakers. We hit the road at 11am for 13.2 miles to Holy Trinity Episcopal/Madera UMC.
I started the day out strong, at a good walking pace with my companion and friend, Nelson Serrano Poveda. We had excellent conditions...about 75, a good breeze, friendly drivers and shop owners (who allowed us to use the bathroom at our 5 mile stop), and the best support driver (and foot care assistant) Wilson Colon. Wilson drove near Nelson and I and played great 80s/90s music loudly so we could sing along and dance a little...I know, not exactly "spiritual", but the road is long and sometimes boring.
At the 5 mile mark, we took our lunch break (thanks to Lee Halkias and Nancy Fitzgerald for making that possible), and because I felt a blister forming on my heel, I rode in a support vehicle for the next 5 miles or so. After that break, I rejoined Nelson and the team of Warren, Jovita, Bp David and Tracy Cappel Rice, as we headed towards Holy Trinity. As we got closer to the church I could feel that final blister pop...and my sock became damp and blood was visible. But the sin of pride, and believe me, I know how sinful pride is now, compelled me to finish.
So when we got to the home of Terri, our host for the evening, I removed my shoes and Wilson had to remove my socks because my feet were so swollen. When Wilson took my socks off, the blister patches from this morning came off, as well as the skin on my heel. The pain of exposed skin was more than I anticipated. After drinking more water, I had to sit in the pool with my feet in for about 30 minutes. Once I got out of the pool, we cleaned the blisters and wrapped my feet in bandages. I am not allowed to walk the next 2 days and I'm really disappointed.
However, I've decided I'm not leaving the pilgrimage. I will ride along with our support drivers, I'll prepare the walkers for the day, I'll assist with breaks and lunch set up, and pray.
Because even in this moment of feeling pain and self pity, I was reminded of why we're doing this. I thought about the images that Sean T. Hawkeyhas shared about the "caravan "... mothers and fathers pushing baby carts or pulling wagons with their children riding along. I thought about the groups of people riding in flat bed trucks through cities...appreciating the respite found in taking a ride. I thought about the reasons why people leave their homes: so they can be with their families, escspe from extreme violence and environmentally caused poverty (which we, as part of a consumption based society, have contributed to, btw), and to find hope. If we really believe it when we say "we walk because they walk'", then with joy in my heart, hopeful to be of service to my companion walkers, I'm continuing on this pilgrimage...not because I'm stubborn (say nothing),or competitive (again, say nothing), or suffering some Messiah-esque martyrdom (cause that's part of that whole sinful pride thing), but because I believe in the ministry of our team, I believe in our call to be a people of faith, a people descended from those wandering Aramenians, Sarah and Abraham, and because I'm part of the human family, especially reflected in a people who believe in the power of HOPE, which is rooted in the loving, liberating and life-giving Jesus. We walk because they walk.