52 Hikes Later

I was recently asked, “What makes for a good a hike”? I replied, “It needs to be strenuous and I must make a connection with God”. A year ago today, I took on the @52hikechallenge. My rules were simple, each hike had to be a different route/trail and each hike had to be a minimum of 2 hours. The framework around these hikes were reflection and noticing how God works through me. Most hikes brought me joy and a level of consolation that would allow me to see God easily. On a few hikes, my day pack was loaded with the baggage of daily life. On these hikes I could not see clearly and I found myself walking at a much faster pace to complete the hike. What a lesson, be still even while you move. Looking back on my 51 hikes to date, I always looked forward to two things, listening to “That Lucky Old Sun” Kenny Chesney with Willie Nelson and reflecting on March 5, 2015. On that day it was the first time I could see and feel Jesus as a human. I was the only one in the vast Saint Ignatius church at Boston College, I was in prayer seeking some clarity about Jesus in my life. Raising my head, I found myself locked on the fourth Station of The Cross, known as “Jesus meets his Mother”. At that moment, I saw the tenderness and compassionate love of Mary as well as the suffering servant, Jesus, fully human. This moment began my conversion. Let’s fast forward to this week. I had the opportunity to visit the newly opened Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. I was excited to see The Stations of the Cross exhibit featuring all fourteen stations by sculptor Gib Singleton. Opening the large glass door to the exhibit, I found myself once again all alone in front of the fourth Station.IMG_3309 Not only alone, the single bench on this half of the exhibit was right in front of the sculpture. I sat down, I prayed, thanking God for finding me when I needed to be found and for this solitary moment in silence. Minutes went by and suddenly the exhibit door opened. I heard a lady on the opposite side of the wall reading word for word the meaning of each station. Around the corner she came pushing her young daughter in a wheelchair. Without an excuse me, she is now blocking my view of “number 4”. In a loud voice she stated, “I don’t remember this one.” Then she proceeded to read to her daughter the background of when “Jesus meets his mother.” In that second, I realized this was the most significant moment of my @52hikechallenge and I was not even on the trail. Prior to 2015, I would have become irritated and impatient . On that day it was so different. I saw an image of Mary and Jesus in the faces of these two strangers. A mother caring for her child, and a child who could not walk, suffering in her own way. If it was not for my many miles alone with God this past year, I surely would have missed God’s visit to Washington DC. As I share this post, I’m off on my fifty-second and final hike of the challenge. My wishes for all of you are a joy filled and healthy New Year. As many of you walked with me in your own way during these hikes, I hope you can take with you one nugget to reflect on in 2018.

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