Sunday, June 17, 2012

Different Kind of Sacrifice

I think everyone enters the Crossroads experience expecting something.  They may not know precisely what it is, but they're definitely expecting it.  It could be new friends, a life changing experience, to get in shape, to grow closer to God, to see cool scenery, to explore the country, and so much more.

One of my expectations was not to get sick.

The other day (Thursday, I believe it was) I woke up and walked 3 minutes down the road to Mass.  As I sat down, I felt a strange wave of lightheadedness.  Mass went on, and I got progressively worse and worse.  By the end, I was bent over, leaning on the pew in front of me, dizzy, with a pounding headache.  Afterwards, as I sat on the church steps with my head between my knees, all I could think was "This was not part of the plan".  I hated to do it, but I took the day off and slept for 6 hours.  Grace ended up walking for me, which meant she did back-to-back shifts.  (thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!)

I was eternally grateful for those 6 hours of sleep.  So grateful that I did night shift that night.  An extra long night shift which lasted 14 hours and in which we walked 40 miles.  A night shift that lasted so long that I walked in the sun again.  Which was super stupid and dumb on my part, because I had heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion.  Why, oh why, oh why???

Did you know that the symptoms for heat exhaustion are pretty similar to those of heat stroke?  And that heat stroke can be fatal?  Yeah, me neither.  Needless to say, I was pretty freaked out for a little while.

If there's anything I hate, it's being sick.  Not because I feel yucky, but because I feel so useless.  Like I should be up and doing things, helping people make dinner and clean, but instead I have to sit on the sofa and do nothing.  And then I'll feel better and do something, and immediately after another wave of faintness will come over me and I'll have to sit down right away.  People, I promise I'm not faking!

Last night, I sat in the hot tub for a little bit, making me feel 1000% better, and then my mom was like "That probably wasn't the best idea for someone who has heat exhaustion".... oh yeah.  Whoops.  Kinda forgot about that.

(disclaimer: I'm drinking lots of sports drinks, taking natural remedies of various sorts, and am taking it easy.  No worries, I'm gonna be ok ;) )

This is all to say... I've been thinking about the reason I'm here.  My expectations.  I wanted to grow in my faith, to gain friendships, to witness to the dignity of life.  But as I've sat with a spinning head, I've wondered if my last couple days have even been worthwhile.  If I'm not walking, is there even a point to being here?

I've come to realize that there is.

Why am I here?  For prayer and sacrifice.  I'm getting a heck of a lot of prayer in sitting on this sofa.  It's a huge sacrifice for me to not walk.  I thought I was here to walk.  But there's so much more than that.  I am here to walk, but I can witness in other ways too.

Last night during dinner, Josh said something that I've always heard, but it really hit me.  He said "Make every bite a prayer!"  I may pray my morning offering when I wake up, but do I mean those words I say?  Do I mean that I offer "my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of the day"?  Or do I say it because that's what I've been doing for years?  Do I remember that literally everything I do while I'm here is for the greater glory of God, and that everything should be a prayer?  It's definitely something that I need to work on.

Break break.

We've been making videos like there's no tomorrow.  So much so that the Crossroads office assured everyone that yes, we are still walking. :P  (We are, in fact, 2 days ahead!)

So here, I present you with Peter's latest work.

And here is the video I referenced in my last post that Josh made: 30 Miles in Our Shoes

Enjoy your day (and your week!) everyone!  Pray for us all as we venture into the flatness that is South Dakota.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God

And all Creation is Shouting for Joy.

I've never particularly liked that song, but lately, I've been realizing how absolutely true it is.  How often do we spend time looking at the world that God gave us and really, truly appreciate it?  I'm so grateful that I've had the chance to do just that while on Crossroads.

I am now (temporarily) on night shift.
In all honesty, I was really excited to take part in the whole "walking at night" thing.  I was one of only two people on the walk that hadn't been on night shift yet.  It's such a different experience.

Sunday night.
my team warns me that night shift isn't really all that great: it's hard, it's tiring, and by mid-week, I'll be cranky and exhausted.  nevertheless, I'm excited to begin.

we drive two hours to our starting point.
Kirstin and Josh are starting out, so Zechariah, Stephanie, and I wait in the car.  While waiting, Zechariah and I record some ridiculous dances to (maybe possibly) make a fun music video.
sunsets are gorgeous.
Have you ever watched the sun set while standing on a hill overlooking a valley, with mountains in the distance?
I got to do that on Sunday night, and it was magnificent.  Even the swarms of mosquitoes couldn't keep my happiness level low.
josh and I set out.
We pray our rosary, and as the moon rises in front of us, we talk.  funny stories from growing up and from high school.
the moon was so bright that we could see our shadows behind us.
we make jokes about alien attacks, and listen to birds that sound like hyenas.  the moon is above us, shining and brilliant in the sky.
pure beauty.
when I get back in the car, I sleep for a couple hours, then it's time to walk again.
Zechariah and I begin walking and pray another rosary.
It's early in the morning and the sun has started to rise.  conversation comes surprisingly easy at 4:30 am.  there's a hint of glow in the sky, and as time goes on, the sky lights up into a dozen different colors: reds, oranges, yellows.  we watch deer scamper across a field and stop right by the car, about a mile up the road.  cows wandered out to pasture and began their gentle mooing.

monday night.
If there was a night that I could remember for the rest of my life, it would absolutely and definitely be monday night.
josh and I set out around 9.  the moon was bright; not as bright as the night before, but more full.  after praying our rosary, we talked about faith.  every once in a while, a train would pass on the tracks next to us, its light piercing the darkness up ahead.  the gentle chugging was a reassuring sound that I normally wouldn't have been aware of.  Semi trucks passed and i could feel the whoosh of air that they pulled behind them.  the air was cool but as we walked further, we were able to take our sweatshirts off and just wear the reflective vests over our PRO-LIFE shirts.  As we heard a car or truck approach, we'd turn on our flashlights, the soft light showing where we were and lighting our way.

again, I slept.

sleep comes surprisingly easy when you're walking at night.  we're awakened at 4 am to begin the last 5-mile shift of the night.

we were both tired, so after the rosary, we fell into silence.  with 4.2 miles to go, we could already see the van up ahead, hazard lights flashing bright in the dark.

its amazing how your senses are heightened at that hour.

the moonlight reflected off a white barn, a mailbox, and three simple crosses at the side of the road.
in unison, our footsteps were loud on the pavement.  every so often, one or the other of us would kick a stone, and it would bounce to the side.
I could hear the wind blow gently through the grass.
horses whinnied and beat their hooves in a nearby stable.
a small stream trickled into a ditch nearby.

just before the sun began to rise, the birds started singing.  First, just a single song, then the whole area was filled with melodies and harmonies of all different birds.  some loud, some soft; they combined to form a symphony for us as we walked.

I could see a wooden pole rising against the lightening sky, a nest perched on top.  as a large bird, probably an eagle, rose from the nest, Josh broke the silence.

Silence again.
Not the awkward i'm-trying-to-think-of-something-to-say-and-can't silence, but beautiful silence.  A Full Silence that can only come from listening to God and all of His creation.

the sky started to be illuminated.  directly to my right was the full moon, still shining with all its glory, and to my left was a hazy sky.  

deep gray-ish purple mountains rose against a lighter purple sky, set off by medium blue clouds.  
words cannot begin to describe the depth of beauty that filled that space.
we were surrounded by mountains on all sides, by whispy clouds up above and the gently rising sun as the cherry on top.

It was such a different sunrise than the morning before, but just as, if not more, phenomenal.  God is a magnificent painter.

What can I say; I'm in love.
I'm in love with the beauty that I have the ability to see on this journey.
I'm in love with the Creator of that beauty; the One who made it all, with my God, the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.

In Him,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Every Day We're Shufflin'...

This is going to be a fairly long post, so buckle your seatbelts!

I'm done with week two of Crossroads, and this past week was just as great as last week!  I'll say it again (and again, and again...): It is such a blessing to be here!

this week we had two new (temporary) walkers!  Alexander and Daniel Fedoryka (of the band Scythian) joined us a week ago Friday and will be here until next weekend.  They're a lot of fun and it's great to have more people walking.

Amanda went home this week :( She thought she had mono, but got home and didn't.  Still, she has a virus and will be home recovering for at least 3 weeks.  Hopefully she can join us again!

We're ahead of schedule! By about a day!!!  Huzzah!!  Hooray!!  Praise God we're ahead, because with injuries and sickness this week, we didn't cover as much as we did last week.  Still, we managed to get 28-33 miles each shift!

I saw my parents last weekend... which was really nice.  My mom and dad came to Idaho to visit my godparents, and I was able to stay with them for a night (and take a day off) and then the whole group stayed at my godparents' house as well.

This is my last week of being 18 (aaahhhhhh....!) Where the heck did the last year go?

Blisters are no fun.  Only one person on the walk, Daniel, has managed to get by without any blisters so far.  (lucky ducky!)  One day I had none, the next I had 3, and 5 days later I had 6.  Oh dear me.  I think blisters are my least favorite part of this summer.

NIGHT SHIFT!  I'm finally on night shift this week!  I'm soo super duper excited.  (I have been informed that by Wednesday, I won't be so thrilled.  I'll let y'all know (yes, I did just say y'all)).

I love meeting people on the road and at Mass.  People are so supportive!  It's wonderful to see that yes, America is really prolife.  We've had at least 2 people a day stop us on the side of the road to ask if we need a ride.  One day, we had 7 cars stop!  The best is when someone stops, then comments on the Crossroads Prolife facebook page about their encounter.

The Catholic world is soooo small!  On this trip, I have met friends of friends, family of friends, people who knew people I used to know... It's awesome and I love it.
~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~    ~~~~
I realized that I keep talking about these people I'm walking with, and you don't even know anything about them.  Behold, your introduction!

John: aka Fearless Leader.  John's our walk leader.  He's a master's student at Boston College studying education (and theology, I think?).  He likes Broadway.

Josh: Our assistant leader.  Josh is a rising Junior at Notre Dame.  He's studying History and Philosophy and has an awesome hat.

Zechariah: Student at Missouri State majoring in Computer Information Systems.  Zechariah is super fun and always happy (that's what he said) :D.

Mario: Our Irish walker!  He walked with Crossroads in Ireland last summer and came to the States (for the first time) to walk with us.  He likes tea and enlightening us about life in Europe.

Peter: Will be a sophomore at Ave Maria, studying classics and either history or philosophy.  He likes to get into deep philosophical discussions.

Grace: Rising junior at Ave Maria.  She made it through 2 weeks on night shift and is (amazingly enough) still happy and cheerful.  She also walks 15 miles in a row.

Kirstin: Just graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville where she majored in drama and english.  (I know her from high school.)  She has a strong liking for all things Disney.

Stephanie: Fellow Franciscan Student, fellow Communications and Catechetics major.  She's a rising Junior and always wears a flower in her hair.  She's also always and perpetually genuinely cheerful (which in turn makes the rest of us a wee bit more happy).

Allison: (Me) You probably already know this already, but I'm a rising sophomore at Franciscan, studying Theology, Catechetics, and Communications.

Alexander and Daniel: brothers, Franciscan grads, members of the band Scythian.  (Check them out- they're awesome!)

For Your Entertainment:
I've made my Crossroads albums on Facebook public so everyone can see them.  You should be able to see them here.
Week 1 we made a fun and totally ridiculous "music video", which you can view right here:

Josh made a really cool "day in the life" video that should be uploaded soon.  When it's up, I'll put the link here!

Whewph! Everyone's coming back out of the woodwork from a lazy Sunday afternoon, so I'd better get going!

Check out this website where I post shorter, more frequent updates on random things that happen during the week: Track My Tour.

Comment, subscribe, and leave me prayer requests!