The hardest thing that happened this summer was the passing away of Andrew, one of the walkers on central walk, after he was struck by a car while he was walking. Although none of Northern Walk had ever met him, there’s a certain camaraderie you have with a person who is going through the exact same thing as you. That week, we learned so much as every one of us debated whether or not we were going to continue the walk. It’s not easy to think about not finishing something that you’ve dedicated your summer to. For some, it was an easy decision; others debated for a couple days. Ultimately, our entire group remained on the walk. Walking was even more meaningful following the accident: we were walking not only for the unborn and for our own growth, but also for Andrew. We were finishing what he was unable to finish.
Crossroads was truly a unique experience. Most people can’t say that they’ve walked through 14 states in one summer, touring the corn fields and stumbling across hidden towns featuring "World Famous Milkshakes". Or that they’ve slept in an RV with 11 other people for a weekend. (or gone 5 days without a shower? sshhhh…. Hey. Just bein' real.) Or that they’ve brushed their teeth in a pasture. Washed altar linens in an outdoor spigot. Or that they made lifelong friends in a matter of weeks.
I have quite a few really good friends. Some I’ve known for 12 years. Others I met in high school. Some I met in college. But the only people who I can claim I really got to know within weeks of meeting them are my Crossroads teammates. I can say with certainty that if I ever need something, I can call any one of my walking buddies and they’d respond in an instant. And I can state with equal certainty that if any of them ever need anything, even if it’s just to talk, I’d drop everything to help them.
I hate tossing around the words “I love you”. I have a quote hanging in my room that says "And Love is a word used too much and much too soon"; I think those are special words for special people. But I can tell you with my whole heart that I love these people. They are and forever will be my family.
It's interesting, when I got home in August, I was able to see my 2 closest friends (that I've known since Kindergarten) for a couple hours. At the end of our time together, they both said to me, "You've changed, and I don't really know how. But it's for the better". That's exactly how I feel. I can't put my finger on how I changed, or what precisely brought about that change, but I do believe that it was for the better.
Maybe now you have a better understanding of why I can’t easily explain my time on Crossroads. Yes, I can give a pretty darn good talk at a parish. I can convince people to donate money and ask them to pray for us. But explaining my own personal experience? As with anything life-changing, it’ll takes a little while. Still, it’s a story I’m more than willing to share.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, it’s easy for me to think about Crossroads, but I have come to the understanding that in order to truly grow from this summer, I need to digest it all and let it penetrate my life. I’ve obviously changed, so I need to let that change fully happen and fully effect me. I hope that through these few, weak, insufficient words that I’ve put together, you’re able to gain a deeper insight into the walk and into my heart.
If you have a spare week during a summer, or maybe even a whole summer free, I’d encourage you all to think and pray about doing Crossroads. I can assure you that you will grow like you never grew before. You’ll laugh harder than ever. You’ll overcome personal fears, and you'll conquer mountains, figuratively and literally.
Lastly, I’m going to ask you to pray for Crossroads and everyone involved. Pray for our directors. Pray for all of us giving talks for Crossroads over our Christmas breaks*. Pray for the first-ever Australian walk that starts in 6 days. Pray for all walkers, past, present, and future. It’s a difficult mission, yet also oh-so-rewarding, and I can say from personal experience that there’s definitely a spiritual fight going on in Heaven over this amazing organization.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about what I’ve said. You can either leave a comment if you’d like me to address it on my blog, or email me at email@example.com if you’d prefer I email you directly.
Lots of Love,
*I’ll be speaking to about 5 classes at my high school before Christmas… yikes. I feel old. I remember Crossroads people coming to speak when I was a sophomore in high school. And now, 4 years later, “those people” is me.