Why walk to Jerusalem

How do you keep life simple?

We came to California in late 2007 searching the coast for a home. Paso Robles eventually felt right. We offered our workshops, slide shows, and walking classes here. And Petra and I wrote Germany to Rome in 64 days: Our Pilgrimage, a book on our Rome pilgrimage. But then:

Hardly are we at home with a way of living
And cozily settled in, than drowsiness threatens
And we are ready to leave,
Feeling like we are held by some paralyzing trap. ...
   - from Herman Hesse's, Stages (Stufen)

And after less than a year here, we were homesick for the unknown again. It was apparent that it was time to move on from Paso Robles. We were ready to walk again. Before we left Europe, as we walked to Rome, we thought of continuing that pilgrimage on to Jerusalem. We thought of doing it before establishing a permanent residence here in the US. We didn't. It was clear that we had to come to the to realize that we wanted to walk not only to Jerusalem but also across the U.S. So it was time to begin anew our pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Why walk? We like walking. We like the lure of the next horizon. We like living every day differently, in a new environment. We walk for simplicity. We walk for unity. We walk for the environment. We walk for peace. We walk for both external and internal peace, but mostly for that internal peace that lets us walk in joy through our pilgrimage of life no matter the turmoil outside. We walk to meet all of you who are out there along our way. We also walk to experience the joys and adversities that make our lives stronger and more whole as we live through them. We walk to feel the warmth and strength of the sun, the gentle pushes and heavy blasts of the wind, the heat of mid-day and the cold of late night. We walk to live fully our pilgrimage of life day by day as we take each step into the East.

As we prepared in Paso Robles on a deeper level yet, we were homesick not only for the unknown but also in a very true sense for the answer to the question, "What is this life about." We, like Socrates, were carrying our lamp looking for that "truth" of life. We chose to search with far less attachments than many have. Whether that is a truly efficient way to search or not, it is the way we chose to spend our next year and a half or so. I suspected the answer is "life is about living" and that is what we were be doing as we walked--or didn't walk.

To return to more mundane level, our house was confining, it demanded much of us. That's nothing new. Many others have similar feelings and do nothing. But we wanted to do something about it. We were leaving it for the time, ending our lease, selling many things, storing what was left, and literally walking away from the house. We didn't have to take care of it. We didn't have to pay gas bills, water bills, garbage bills, rent, car insurance, electric bills, internet bills, phone bills, taxes. We idin't want to buy gas for the car. We knew we could spend our time better than sweeping the sidewalk, the kitchen floor, or the back patio or vacuuming the living room, our offices, and the bedroom. We could no longer believe it was reasonable to water grass in a semi-desert where we should be growing cacti instead.... We were ready to leave all of those goodies at the cost of having to find a new motel or camping spot each night, of having to set up a tent, of having to cook over an open fire or to eat in a restaurant, of walking every day.

We knew we would find a new place where we would stop some day. But for that time we were headed for Jerusalem on a year and a half odyssey, a year and a half pilgrimage in the Pilgrimage of our lives. We knew that when the way said stop, we'd stop. But until that time we'd walk to learn from the road, to meet and learn from new people, to see new lands, to cross horizon after horizon, to celebrate life in all its many forms. And our aim was to live with what we have on our backs. Whatever else we "needed" the road, the Universe, would provide. If it didn't provide it, we didn't need it. We aim was to have only those small pieces we truly need and no more.

Beyond all that, we had an additional goal. Though we knew it is true intellectually, we wanted to demonstrate that one can walk from anywhere in the Western Hemisphere to Santiago de Compostela and then to Rome and Jerusalem and beyond. As we had given our slide shows and workshops in the U.S. we were saying, "You can walk from your home to Santiago." It was time to do it ourselves.

Having said all this, the bottom line was that we walk because we like to walk, because we wanted to walk. With the walk looking at us in the face, I was apprehensive. But for that very reason I was excited to face it. We conceived it. We gave it birth. We were ready to live with it to see where it would take us. We intended to learn from our child as much as we feared it and looked at it with awe.

we invited you to walk a while with us, to join us on our pilgrimage. We said you could join us also by inviting us to set up a tent on your lawn or to put our sleeping bag on your porch for a night. Many of you actually invited us into your houses and beds for the night.

by mid-August we had walked seven months to get to Woodstock, Illinois, our first major stop. At times if felt like a "worm-hole" or "time-warp" walk, that the seven months felt like an instant. Yet Paso Robles was a long way back. The people we met along the road were an inspiration; they still are an inspiration. Thanks to all you for so much.

The walk is done now, done for almost two years as I just rewrote this page. If you like, you can also view the original of this page. It's flavor and content are a bit different.

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Copyright © 2008-2012 Mike Metras, www.PilgrimageCreations.com