Pilgrim Journal: Alabama: Disasters, Comical and Otherwise (7)

The tall pines of Alabama made good carpets for making camp, but could be tricky for finding good cover.

The tall pines of Alabama made good carpets for making camp, but could be tricky for finding good cover.

(This is the seventh installment in my narrative of my pilgrimage, my walking journey of 3,200 miles and a year and a half across the country from Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012. Things have been pretty serious around here lately, so I change it up a little).

I started making my way south on Rte. 69 out of Cullman. A month and a half later a tornado flattened the historic downtown area of Cullman. It was the beginning of a pattern that troubled me all throughout my pilgrimage. It seemed that major natural disasters, primarily in the form of tornadoes, massive fires, flood and drought stalked me the whole way. It felt, to me, like satan was raging, unable to touch me directly but striking all around me. The disasters never reached me, but they often hit towns and areas shortly after I walked through. It was the only thing that ever caused me to consider abandoning the journey. I spoke with my priest, Fr. Mark about it at one point. He said if I was right, how did I think adding disobedience to the mix would help anything. I agreed, but made it a point to offer up a Rosary of prayer for every town and county I walked through. I kept silent about it, but several people who were following my progress on a map noted it. I was planning to spend the Christian holidays with my brother, Steve, and his family in San Diego. He noted wryly at one point that he was glad to see me coming, but he was not sure whether he was willing to let me leave. At first I did not understand, as I had said nary a word about the phenomenon. But he explained, “Wherever you go, as long as you stay, everything is fine. But after you leave, all hades breaks loose in a lot of places.” (He may not have used the exact word, hades.)

For about 10 miles, Rte. 69 parallels I-65, then it breaks away heading southwest towards Jasper, Alabama. When I reached the point where it broke off, I encountered another troubling phenomenon that would bother me for several months. When I left on my journey, knowing that Catholic churches would be few and far between and I would often be in at least a semi-wilderness, I resolved that when I saw any sign of life at any Christian Church I would stop and visit a little – and ask the blessings of prayers of whoever I met while carrying their intentions with me on my way.

Just at the point where Rte. 69 breaks away, there was a little Baptist Church. A whole bunch of young folks (from about 10 to 16 years old) where whooping and playing outside. So I went up to see what was going on. The young people were fascinated with what I was doing. They told me they had a dinner at the church going on that night and invited me to come in. When I did there were women preparing mounds of food. As I explained what I was doing, the women were not as welcoming as the kids. In fact, they eyed me as if I was likely to steal the silverware (as if I didn’t already have enough weight on my back!) Of course, I looked rough…heavy pack on my back, funny hat, a bit grizzled. But people usually quickly recognize that there is no harm in me. But no matter how cheerfully I chatted with them, they kept giving me seriously disapproving glares. I was astounded. They had heaps of rolls and cakes already laid out, but they did not offer me so much as a single crust. The kids remained enthused and talkative. They said they had a worship service that night and asked me to stay for it. Out of the side of my eye, I saw raw panic in the eyes of one of the women at this invitation. I gently thanked the young folks and told them I would love to, but I need to find a place to make camp for the night. You could see the visible relief among the adults as I turned to leave. The kids, as disappointed as their parents were relieved, followed me out chattering away.

I thought to myself with anger that it was a good thing for that church that I was not an angel sent to test them, for their cold animus spoke poorly of them. I reflected on that for a minute and wondered what people expected an angel sent to visit would look like? Rich…handsomely…arrayed in sartorial splendor? I had to believe he would look much like me at the time…itinerant and tired. It startled me, for my family had always been quick to help and show hospitality to anyone who needed it. Once when I was a little boy, on Christmas Eve, a bad blizzard was going on (good for Christmas, bad for travelers). Just before we were sent to bed, a fellow knocked on the door. Even bundled up as he was, he was half-frozen and shivering terribly. He said his car had broke down a few miles back. He had knocked on a few doors, but hadn’t found anyone to help. Mom and Dad had him come in and warm up, while Dad went out to warm up the car. Dad spent over two hours that Christmas Eve helping fix the man’s car and getting him going again. It was inconvenient, but Mom and Dad never shirked what they considered their Christian duty of solidarity.

I thought it must be an aberration. Truth is, in both my political and private life, the non-Catholics that I seemed to have the greatest affinity with are Baptists and Methodists. Always get along great with them. But all through Alabama, Mississippi and halfway through Louisiana, the Baptists I encountered at churches were invariably arrogant, condescending, self-righteous and dismissive. They literally made the Biblical Pharisees look downright hospitable and tolerant by comparison. I was appalled. I was so shaken by it I called one of my dearest old friends (John McConnell’s mother – the fellow who publishes the Peppy Prepper), who is a Baptist to ask her if she could help me understand what was going on. She laughed and said she has been in the south and finally quit going to Baptist Churches when she is there – for they treated her the same way and she’s a Baptist. She said the churches have the same name, but it was an embarrassment to her, because they sure don’t have the same spirit as the Baptists I knew and enjoyed so well. It was in Mississippi where I finally gave up trying. I stopped into a big Baptist Church. I asked to speak to a pastor or pastoral aid. Some man in his mid-30s came up in the anteroom to talk to me, looking at me with great hostility for interrupting his day. His first remark was, “What do you want?” I held my temper and gently told him what I was doing and said I would appreciate his prayers. He told me they didn’t tolerate beggars around there. I held my tongue and told him I didn’t want anything except to chat for a few minutes and to share some prayers. He told me that if I really didn’t want anything, he had important things to do and I needed to leave. So I did. I prayed for those Baptists in the Bible Belt the rest of my way – and still often do. I think they are in some serious spiritual trouble. Fortunately, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I met a wonderful Baptist family that I befriended. We had Easter Dinner together…a marvelous gumbo. That was the beginning of finding the Baptists I had always known again and after that, for the rest of my journey, they were friendly, welcoming and delighted to speak of Christ.

God does have His little graces. As I left the little Baptist Church in a notably sour mood I had not traveled more than half a mile before I came upon a wonderful little – and elaborate – Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima. You cannot imagine how rare that is to find in rural Alabama. It was closed, but there were stations for prayer all outside with Crosses and lovely well-landscaped grounds. I sat and prayed for a while, sweetly recovered my peace, and then got back on the move.

Shortly after I got walking again, a man in an old Chevy truck going the other way stopped and asked me if I needed some help. I told him what I was doing – and that I appreciated his concern, but was fine. He told me that a few miles up the road he had a travel trailer set back in the woods a little. Described it exactly, where it was precisely and said it was open and that I was welcome to sleep inside that night if I wanted. I thanked him and said I would, that I much appreciated it.

Well, a few miles up there it was, just where he said it would be and exactly as he described it. I walked up and, sure enough, it was open. So I rather jubilantly took my pack off, laid a few things out and prepared to make camp in comfort for the night. After I was all settled I went outside, sat on the steps and smoked my pipe, enjoying the dying rays of the day’s sunlight. After a little bit, some neighbors from across the way drove up, an older man and woman. I said hello and the man asked me what I was doing. I explained that the man who owned it had told me I could stay for the night, gave his name, and commented how nice it was the neighbors watched out for each other. The couple looked a bit befuddled. The man said, “Well, that was nice of him, but he doesn’t own this. We do. Our daughter uses it when she’s in town.”

I was flummoxed. I was deeply apologetic and told them I had laid some stuff out inside, that if they would just let me gather that up, I’d get on my way. I was utterly mortified. They stood there for a few minutes, still apparently shaken at seeing an old hobo brazenly taking possession of their trailer. But then they apparently decided I was legit and said, “Well, we’re going to go home. But would you lock up after you get your things together so we don’t get any more unexpected tenants.” I chuckled and said I certainly would.

It was the first time that I walked for a good while after dark. I avoided that when I could. I figured an old man walking with a cowboy hat and heavy pack in the middle of nowhere in the daytime was a curiosity. At night, it would probably be creepy for folks – and I didn’t want to scare anyone. But I could not avoid it this night. Fortunately, after a few miles, I found a serviceable copse of small pines in which to make camp.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
This entry was posted in Pilgrimage Journal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Pilgrim Journal: Alabama: Disasters, Comical and Otherwise (7)

  1. Lily Malakooti says:

    Wow!!! This should be put into books on tape!!! I can’t wait to read more it’s like watching a T.V. Series!!!! Lol

    Lily

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      It was quite an adventure. I really should not let so long go between installments. I am both reliving it as I write about it and building, step by step, the book that will eventually be published on it. I have time – don’t expect any such thing until after the Storm is over. But best to get it down now while my memory is fresh, but after I have had some time to put it in perspective, as well.

      Like

  2. MM Bev says:

    It was sort of worse than you think, Charlie. Jesus had walked into their Church, disguised as you. Isn’t that the “I was hungry, I was thirsty” part of things? I guess there are times when we all do it one way or another, but to be kind of consistent in that behavior isn’t a really good advertisement to draw people to become Christians in your particular denomination.
    Good entry, because it reminds us of what our behavior must be during the time now and the time ahead.. We are all going to be entertaining Jesus at some point or other.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Well, one or two such experiences would not have bothered me too much…but to have all of Alabama and Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana show the same thing in that denomination really shook me. I met some nice Baptists, but not at their churches. All the other denominations there were fine – and after I got out of the Bible Belt, the Baptists were very kind and Christian again. I was so grateful to get back to the types I was accustomed to and value. I remember one Baptist Church in the Colorado plains that was particularly welcoming and warm. But Lordy, don’t expect any kindness at that type in the Bible Belt unless you are already one of them. And even then, you can’t count on it.

      Like

      • piofan6 says:

        Oh, bless your heart Charlie. You were definitely in the Bible Belt. I know you mentioned walking thru Wiggins, MS…I smiled. Strange thing is, and its always been a known fact, from Pasc, Ms to Lake Charles, LA along the coastline, have always been more catholic. Go figure. Some of the best food in the world too, i might add.

        Like

  3. marie says:

    Charlie, your tale of making yourself at home in the wrong trailer is hilarious! I’m still laughing like a drain. Thanks for a bright start to my day ☺

    Like

  4. donna269 says:

    Charlie:
    I love reading your journey and wish you would make this a book….Both my husband and I would love to read it. Reading about the Baptist congregations, I had to take a raw look at myself and say, How would I have acted as a mom of these children? I hope I would have offered you food and drink at the very least…..Interesting lessons here in this one journal alone. Jesus, help me to help anyone who comes in my path in need today (without judgement).

    Like

    • I work as church secretary and know that there are people who work the system, going from one church to another to get a handout to get to a “funeral on the other side of the country” or whatever. We try to be compassionate, but have come up with a system for working together with the other churches and screening the legit from those just working the system. One person who came in and was treated kindly stayed in town, found a job, and is now a regular attendee at Mass. Kindness is more valuable than food I would say, but I reserve the right to change my tune on that as the storm intensifies!!!

      Like

  5. Jim says:

    Charlie,

    Perhaps it was not a lack of Charity that you were treated with suspicion in Alabama, Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana. You did not these areas were rather isolated, so chances are they were never faced with the haunting spectre of an Irish, German and American Indian curmudgeon traipsing through their peaceful hamlet. The thought of such a sight gives even me chills…. 😉

    Of course, on the curmudgeon meter, I, being your elder by a month or two, no doubt rate a higher score in that area; with a Polish, Irish, Prussian and Scottish mix.

    Like

  6. lynnfiat says:

    I hope during your stay in Alabama you visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville (the town next to Cullman), where Mother Angelica and her Nuns reside where you would have been welcomed with open arms by Jesus. We were blessed to have lived there. The Nuns are so joyous and welcoming (the Externs). If you missed it, you should take another trip there. Blessings.

    Like

  7. Stephen Maresch says:

    Charlie,
    I think you must have been biting your tongue and cheek the whole way. I know I would have been wary to accept any hospitality from anyone after that. I would have shaken the dust from my feet and moved on; your a better man than me! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  8. D Shea says:

    It pains me to know that anti-Catholicism is still Out-There but I know it all too well myself. The first time I truly felt discriminated against was after the Old Man retired from the Navy and moved us to NW Arkansas. I attended St Joseph’s School (1-9 grade) where I played 8 Man Football (no Tackles or Fullback). We played all the small hick towns round about and it was here where I learned that people hated me ’cause I was Catholic. Even in the Air Force I ran into some to include a nasty flyer attached under my truck’s windshield wipers in the Squadron parking lot. This was all 50-30+ years ago. “They” are still out there but some of the less ignorant of the bunch are starting to figure out that the Whore of Babylon is not coming from Rome but …. Shazamm!! …. Babylon!
    But!! … when you grow up a Catholic in the US South you are a distinct minority and far removed from what I describe as Womb Catholics from areas where Catholics are a majority … and Womb Catholics can be just as arrogant-n-condescending in their Faith as anybody else. I consider them a subset of what I call the Goody Two-Shoes Types 😉

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Well, D, I am not sure this particular regional denomination was so much anti-Catholic so much as they were furiously insular and anti-everything but them. Too often they were nasty to me before they even had a clue about anything other than my pack, hat, and age.

      Like

      • D Shea says:

        It’s just coincidence, no doubt, but just an hour ago, I was on my usual PM walk through the neighborhood when a neighbor and retired AF guy accosted me and said something like: Hey D! What’s with that Pope of yours? Then he went on about the “Big Bang” and something about Francis saying that God couldn’t do this or that. I just told him not to believe everything he reads …. and I’ve lived in the Baptist South long enough to see the anti-Catholicism bubbling out on countless such encounters ;-( Surely the Pope knows that the “Media” is anti-Christian generally and anti-Catholic in particular …….. not to mention the 10% of “The Vatican” who are Satan’s double agents trying to trip-up and or distort the his messages!? In the End it’s all moot but it still gets my hemorrhoidal tissues all inflamed!! It’s almost 3PM here ….. Jesus I Trust In You 😉

        Like

  9. Connie says:

    I am relieved that the Baptist in Louisiana treated you well. I know you have remarked before, Charlie, about the hospitality of the “Cajuns”, of which I am one. I think someone remarked on another post some where that they thought everyone was Catholic growing up – ditto for me! We live in East Texas now (most of our family members still in LA.) and not long ago, the morning my husband’s boss called me to tell me he had just had a heart attack, I hurriedly got things together
    as his job is an hour away and knew I wouldn’t be back home anytime soon, anyway I had my small housedog with no one near to keep him. I said a quick prayer as I put him in the car that somehow somewhere along the way I would find someone to keep him for a few days. There are only small towns along the way to Beaumont, but there ARE a lot of little churches, too. So I was on the lookout for anyone at a church who could help. Sure enough, by God’s good grace, I saw two women both driving into a Baptist church at the same time not far from the first small town I came up on, so I whipped in and explained my situation and one kind lady gave me directions to a groomer that she knew of but didn’t know name or number. I found the lady about 5 minutes away off the beaten path and again, hurriedly explained my situation and yes indeed she would keep him. Wow, was I relieved. I thanked her and thanked the Lord and kept on trucking as fast as I could. Well, 4 days later when I came to collect my dog, this kind lady refused to take my money!. So she is my new dog groomer AND I now am confident that my dog will have a safe place to stay when we have to stay overnight in Beaumont( very likely as my husband will need future procedures) Had it not been for the kindness of those Baptist ladies I may have been in quite a pickle. BTW, Charlie, I have shown my mother who lives in Sulphur, La., your cypress drawing that Curly did and she exclaimed Oh! I have seen Curly before! I told her to keep it quiet because I don’t think he would be enthused by a lot of notoriety, he he!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Oh wow, Connie, I met some wonderful people in Sulphur. They were the Comboy family…I ended up staying a few days with them. They go to Immaculate Conception Church – where I also met a young seminarian who was assigned there that summer and for whom I still pray. The library in Sulphur is interesting…it has the most unique carved brick kind of mural thing at the entrance. Quite striking. I really liked it.

      Also, in Beaumont, I made camp in a nice copse of woods just about a quarter mile from the public library by the big park – the one with the water jets coming up from the concrete that kids can play in. I was surprised because the woods in Beaumont, so close to many things, was one of the places where a cougar came into my camp in the night. I was much more used to encountering them further from such dense civilization.

      Like

      • Mary A. says:

        I can tell from your descriptions that walking makes one notice things more than driving. It is like getting a walkalogue.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          You certainly have more time to look.

          Like

          • Mary A. says:

            Well, you write in a simple expressive way that puts a person where you are.

            Like

          • jeanO says:

            That is the pace our Lord kept, Charlie. Feet in the dust. At that, sometimes the best even He could advise was to shake it off. That is what we are made off! He never left a void in the time He subjected Himself to spend with us. Every word, every gesture, every action, every moment He put into the world is fruit from the Tree of Life.

            Like

      • Connie says:

        I made my confirmation at Immaculate Conception- it was the church of my youth. I haven’t heard of the Comboy’s, but I will ask my mother and siblings. As for the library, I cannot recall the entrance, I guess I have passed it so many times but of course now, the next time I am there I will have to take a look at it. The one thing I do remember is the security guard- he is almost always the first sight inside the library!

        I am not surprised you saw a big cat, panthers and cougars are familiar sites even in neighborhoods if there are any woods nearby. I believe that the park you speak of in Beaumont was where a homeless man that I met at the Baptist hospital said he slept in. I found him deep in prayer on the 2nd floor outside ICU and we struck up a conversation. He was Catholic and I gave him an Our Lady of Tepeyac Miracle prayer card( I gave him money of course for food). He was quite an intelligent, humble and sincere man. I was glad to have met him and wished I would have been able to help him out more. I did give him my phone # and told him to call me if he was still homeless when the cold set in. I do not do this as routine, but something about him told me he was honest. I am usually a good judge of character. It did sadden me to think of this almost hidden in plain site part of humanity. I admit that I forget there are homeless in every big city and it made me resolved to at least remember them in prayer more often. I do know that there is a shelter not far from the hospital also. Now that I am thinking about it again, I may have to go check it out the next time I am in Beaumont. So big cats and homeless people are there, just unseen most of the time.

        Like

        • Connie says:

          Oh, wow. I just started reading back down to the newer posts of Oct. 30th and homeless people are already mentioned! Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit coming through.

          Like

  10. Mary A. says:

    I am curious. What did you say when you would tell people what you were doing? Did you just say you were walking across country (not unusual these days, to benefit a cause)?

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Good question, Mary. I told them I was doing it as a religious pilgrimage, to throw myself on a radical dependence on God. I said I thought the world was in real trouble…that we worried about what we might lose and we had good reason to worry…but that we had lost sight of the fact that our only source of security is in God. So I was living a radical dependence and praying for our poor world along my way.

      Amazingly, I had to have told that to thousands of people and less than a handful disagreed. The reactions were stunning. People often let out a breath and said, “I know.” Many gave them things for me to add to my prayers on their behalf (including one overtly atheist man). I never told anyone that I had visitations…it just was not time for that. But a few thought we were nearing the end. I would always react to that, telling them no, it was not the end, but it would feel like it. One State Trooper in a southern State – a Sergeant – had stopped to check on me and as we talked, he had said he had been wondering that. I don’t know what got into me, but as I told him it was not the end, I also told him that God had work for him…that the time would come when people were in panic – including some of the very people he worked with…and that God was calling him to be prepared so he could help calm those troubled waters, to strengthen the righteous resolve of his fellows to help those in need rather than panicking. Amazingly, he was in tears of joy at it. He gave me his card and wrote his cell # on the back…told me if anybody gave me any trouble in that state, to give him a call and he would take care of it.

      Like I said, I did not tell people how I knew but somehow, almost everyone believed that I DID know. Several times, without even having explained why I was doing it, people would burst into tears and say, “Oh thank heavens. God DOES have a plan.” I would think then that yes, He does, but how do you see it from chatting with an old man walking? I wouldn’t say it. Didn’t want to discourage anyone’s joy, but I wondered about it. I gotta tell you honestly, though I have had a long time to get used to it, even so, sometimes it is still pretty weird to be me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fran says:

        Charlie, I think it may be because there are people who sense or know themselves that the world is in trouble, and that God is going to do something, but maybe have no one who understands them, or who they can talk to about it, or who even sees. So when they find someone, even a stranger, who is praying and walking and meeting people, FOR THIS PURPOSE it confirms that still, small, voice inside. So, I think that the exclamations of “thank heavens, God does have a plan.”, and tears were because the Holy Spirit,working through you, was giving them hope. So you were, literally, acknowledging God, taking the next right STEPS, and being a sign of hope to those around you. No wonder God wanted you to make that trek.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          It’s funny, Fran, I have seen it as a real sign of hope more in the aftermath than when I was doing it. I trust in God, but I honestly did wonder a lot of times about why people were getting so worked up about an old man walking. My son kept telling me, “This is big, this is important,” and other people echoed him a lot of times. But though I was the one doing it, I really did not see what the big deal was until after I was done. I think now about how if I knew someone who had done it, I would think it was awesome and cool, but maybe because familiarity breeds contempt, though I love having done it – and had such wonderful experiences on my way, it still seems in my mind mostly just something kind of cool that I did. But God was pretty insistent about me going, so even though I know a little of its importance, I guess it was important in ways that still kind of befuddle me.

          Like

          • Fran says:

            It is really cool, how God can take something that we do, and think isn’t much, but because we are doing it for Him, He can do wonderous things! It isn’t necessarily “great” things (in the world’s view) that we do, but if we do everything He asks (little or big) with great love and trust then He pours out His grace! That is exactly what He did with you…love that!

            Like

          • malachi99 says:

            Hi Charlie,

            The thought just crossed my mind as I have been reading your comments here that this implicit awareness that a lot of folks have that the wheels are coming/have fallen off, that a change is imminent and it ain’t gonna be pleasant, is perhaps a verification of sorts of your belief that we are in the midst of what many call “the warning”.

            I have to say that the majority interpretation on this specific expected phenomenon, to me at least, is not plausible. I think that those who expect God will bring all men into the fire of his divine light to reveal their sins, essentially each persons particular judgement, thereby making clear to them His existence and Holiness and their dependence and sinfulness, is something that I just don’t buy.

            In surveying popular culture especially the movie industry and its fascination with disaster movies we are made privy to the collective sub-conscious sense of guilt weighing the men of our age down. We know our sins, some delight in them, and we know that justice demands we reap what we sow. It’s just a good thing that the God of heaven and earth is merciful and will deliver us from the consequences of the abuse of our freedom.

            Like

      • Thomas says:

        Matthew 25… “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethern, you did it to me.” Humbling words from Jesus.

        I went to college in Virginia and was consistently amazed by the hospitality of the people there. People always smiled and said hello, and would offer to help even if you didn’t ask for it. A far cry from suburban Philly. Though I never was in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana, reading your encounters with the Baptists was truly a surprise to me. It is uncharacteristic of Southerners I have known, which makes it all the more shocking.

        John Paul II was convinced – and by his own life he taught us – that culture makes history, not politics or economics. Reading about the police officer you encountered in your note above… that to me is honor, duty, and culture personified. That is the America I love, and have to believe in. It fills up my heart with HOPE that there are still men out there like him. To those of us who are given much, much is expected of us. Also Matthew 25 (the Parable of the 5 Talents)! We who are called to lead must never lose hope.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          Yeah, Thomas, I have a lot of family in Alabama. It’s where my roots are. I have been in the north since I was three and a half years old, so I am definitely a Yankee – though I reckon I’m kind of a Southern Fried Yankee. It utterly shocked me, too, as I know the tradition of hospitality and up north, Baptists are just people I naturally get along with. I’m kind of drawn to them. But I went out of my way to go to as many as I could until the one I described in Mississippi where I just finally gave up on it, for I was sure it must have been an aberration. It still might have been, but it was two and a half states worth of aberrations.

          Like

  11. I love reading about your pilgrimage across the country, Charlie. I was wondering if you would get the chance to write more about your journey and was so glad to see that you are posting about it again. It’s sad that you were treated so coldly in some areas though. That’s a lot of “aberrations”.

    If you ever visit New Hampshire could you let me know? That way I can batten down the hatches after you leave 😉 I’d feed you before I put on my hurricane gear though! (And no…I wouldn’t make you eat my yard! Not yet at least…)

    Like

  12. Mrs.B says:

    Your story reminds me of the movie “The way”, with Martin Sheen. But I think yours would make an even better movie, especially if all happens as you say it will.

    Like

    • Connie says:

      Yes, me too. I always think of the way of St. James. I think I would love to walk a pilgrimage and give it all away. What a way to live TRUST! Jesus told St. Faustina, “The graces of My Mercy are drawn by one means only, that is TRUST. The more a soul trusts the more it will receive.” So Charlie you must have received many many graces from your pilgrimage walk. How blessed you are, I think, for your obedience to our Lord.

      Like

  13. Mary A. says:

    I think we should take hope and inspiration for prayer in the thought that only a couple of states have voted for abortion and homosexual marriage. The bad stuff is almost invariably imposed by elite courts. The will of the people has been expressed and thwarted time and time again. Only in Washington has the will of the people been weakly expressed. Makes you wonder what is in the water…

    Like

  14. Mary A. says:

    Also, Charlie, did your dependence mean you took no money with you?

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      I left with about $50 in my pocket. I gave everything away before I left. I would go to libraries and write little articles for an online studio under a pseudonym. I got paid $15 a piece for them. That – and the kindness of strangers – and a few times a friend, carried me across the country.

      Like

  15. Steve Johnston says:

    Charlie, come to think of it, we have been in a drought here in Southern California ever since you left here! lol

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Ha, Steve, that’s a picayune disaster. Now you did have a massive fire just north of Ventura, right where I walked up into the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest in May of 2013. It was kind of creepy watching that unfold and seeing some of my route being scorched. I hope the little tangerine tree where I got one of the tastiest breakfasts I ever had survived. (Steve, by the way, is my brother).

      Like

    • Good one, Steve 😉

      Like

  16. Mark says:

    In fairness, I would not be to disgusted with homes that were less than welcoming. I live on a busy road a few miles from town. Occasionaly we have ‘drifers’ walk by and up our long lane. Now this is not real common, like it was 70 years ago or during Christ’s time. One fella asked to use my cell phone. He was visibly confused. He called a relative some 200 miles away. I gave him some water and he proceeded on. Not 5 minutues later his relative called my cell phone back and said he was on a ‘missing person list’ to which they told me he had some issues and to call the police where they could keep him until they got here to pick him up.

    Now one cannot be to safe these day’s with all kinds of people with issues. I warn my wife and kids to be carefull as it only takes one person to cause great havoc and no help around. Pehaps Charlie, people do not know what you were up to and were very cautious. People can be reactive differently based on what they have seen on TV or experienced in life and it is not personnal. In some way’s I can see why you may not allways have been treated with the respect you were looking for. I know that I was even cautious the few times I have been here when strangers came up my lane. We even had a couple stay over night with us in a blizzard, but I understood their helpless condition.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      I gave you the wrong idea, Mark. On the entire journey, I knocked on an individual door only three times. I know all these things – and reasons why people should be cautious. Shoot, often when I went into a little café in a small town, I would find people in it had been talking about this old guy walking for a day or two – and sometimes someone would apologize for not having offered me a lift. I would tell them that they had done exactly right – they shouldn’t have picked me up if they were alone, that I’m a nice guy but there are a lot of creeps out there – and their first duty is to their family.

      I am not talking about a private situation AT ALL. As I said, I only knocked on a door three times the entire pilgrimage. I am talking in group settings at a church when I would stop in to visit. I quit stopping at Baptist Churches entirely midway through Mississippi because they were universally so hostile. No where else did I get that reception. Several individual Baptists were incredibly kind to me on my way down there. But I was not doing any of the things you are talking about, which I specifically avoided because I knew it would trigger concern – and my purpose was to be a sign of hope.

      Like

      • Mark says:

        Thanks for the clarification Chrarlie. I have wondered how I will respond to ‘difters’ in the tribulation ahead. I am hoping that heaven will guide me in who to help and in what way when the time comes. If left to my own judgements, I may fall short. I am the type of guy who would help anyone in anyway I can, but I would also do what I have to to keep my family safe. May the mercy of God help us all.

        Like

  17. KW says:

    I immediately thought of the Waldo Canyon fire when I read the first paragraph. I haven’t been able to really express what it was like watching that fire until reading this- raging alone doesn’t cover it. Even if you didn’t come through Colorado Springs around that time, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some spiritual raging going on with that one. It just felt different than other fires we’ve been near (but I’ll admit, I could just be crazy).

    Like

  18. Fran says:

    This is off topic, but I am throwing this out there….I get my news primarily from the internet (when I read it, sometimes I feel like I am better off not knowing everything), but don’t know where to go anymore to get news (Catholic or Secular) that is not biased, inflammatory, or just plain false. Is there any? Where do you get your news Charlie? Anyone else?

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Sorry this was not responded to for a while, Fran. Somehow it ended up in a Spam folder. I do a quick scan, Fran. I generally check in with National Review and the American Spectator – but I like checking Drudge a few times a day. Drudge directs you directly to the sites on which the news was broken, so you might go to the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Dayton Plain Dealer (made that last one up). I also check Spirit Daily a few times each day – it, too, links directly to the publishing source, which might be the Vatican, National Catholic Reporter or something else entirely.

      Like

  19. Bob says:

    And Charlie I though of our homeless friend who we let stay and pitch a tent in our yard for several months. He had played music in our wedding and we later learned he had been sleeping in the local cemetery. So we ran into him and let him stay for awhile. He was harmless enough but he had a bit of bipolar disorder and was always talking of how the Illuminati would make us all homeless, so why bother trying to make a life anyway. And after trying to offer him some help to locate some more stable living situation we prayed and sent him on his way. I felt that even though he wanted to be homeless and he got something out of it he still was giving out vibes of “please take care of me” and my offer of encouraging him to restart some Christian contacts was generally rebuffed. So pray for Greg that he will find a way. No comparison to you Charlie, I can assure you, but he was still quite resourceful at times, living as homeless.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      One of the surprises I found on my way is that a lot of homeless have chosen to be homeless. It may be they don’t want to knuckle under to government agencies (Lord, do they hate governmental officials!) Some have a persecution complex. Some just don’t want to deal with the pressures of keeping things afloat. It is a whole lot more complex than people (including me at the time) think it is.

      Like

      • Bob says:

        And yet I bet that most of them will take EBT cards and other government handouts despite their dislike of the agencies and govt control.

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          That is true in a lot of cases, Bob. But I was a bit surprised that a rather sizable contingent really will have NOTHING to do with anything from the government. I don’t think I ever came into a sizable town without bumping into some homeless who would tell me where the religious help centers were, which were good – and where the government centers were, which they would not go near. The general attitude was the religious folks were nice…make you listen to a little talk about Jesus, but then they would help and leave you alone. The government center wanted to take over your life. It was the prevailing attitude. I was surprised at how many would much rather beg than accept an EBT card. Again, my pilgrimage cured many of my misconceptions. The myths the left holds about the homeless are mostly barkingly wrong – but many, maybe most, of the most cherished beliefs of the right are way off base, too. It sobered me and made me wonder how we can ever deal with a problem we actually know so little about – and in which most of what we know turns out not to be so.

          Like

  20. anne says:

    yes, my friend deals with the homeless. Many are “comfortable” there for various reasons. Friendships, habit and also for many there is the past pain of being in a “normal” situation.
    We are all pilgrims, “homeless” til we get to our true home. Many with homes and cars etc have so burrowed in that they only see the earth as their home. So they get caught up more and more and more. Mark Mallett has being saying for ages to “come out of Babylon”. All of us are caught up to different degrees and i think Mark is right. The Lord is calling us out before the collapse. Detachment. We all need grace to be totally focussed on God, detached from everything here. Huge Grace needed.
    At present it seems a bit quiet in the world to me. One could think that things will blow over ……no real gathering of the Storm and all in the imagination. Just a thought.

    Like

    • Connie says:

      I know that there are many homeless who have chosen that as a way of life because my husband and I used to be part of a St. Vincent de Paul’s group at our church. There were some homeless we met, I would say that many have some type of mental illness. But there are some who (and many who were not homeless) knew exactly how to “work the system” ie: who to go to and who to stay away from for help and who gave what help! But I also know that many families live just one paycheck away, so to speak, from being homeless. It was a discernment when we were giving aid to the community, to know how much help to give to some because sometime you are only enabling them, and of course sometimes you get burned when a particularly good con man(or woman) came along. But for the most part we did our best and then left it up to God to judge rightly.

      Like

  21. piofan6 says:

    im not one to put other peope down, we all have our own God given experiences. I was once a very weathly woman. Divorce turned that around. I was in a homeless shelter in Mobile, AL. Charlie said we would be amazed at what we could adapt to. I agree. I adapted. I was grateful to our wonderful God for a mattress, a shower. I am one to think, we will not be sitting back watching the storm on tv as Charlie says. Ive been through pretty major things, maybe preparing me and my children for such, i dunno. I know hunger, pain, isolation…despair. But I do know, He, meaning Jesus Christ comes at the eleventh hour.

    Like

    • Connie says:

      I do agree withyou piofan6, there are many people, I think, who are just one paycheck away from being homeless. It could be anyone of us in that position. I am sorry that you had to experience that, on top of divorce. My husband and I had to rely on the mercy of relatives living in a garage we converted into a little cabin for a time, otherwise we too would have been homeless. Even though you say you know hunger, pain, isolation, and dispair you do not seem bitter but grateful. That leaves me feeling humbled to hear a little of what all you must have gone through and yet thankful to just have a mattress and a shower. I think of that often these days, how will it feel to maybe be dirty for days and then realize I am spoiled and soft. Then I realize I am sitting on a comfortable couch with my belly full. I have never known hunger. Maybe you could share with us a little more of how you were able to cope and adapt. It may help someone to better prepare for what changes are coming. Thank you for sharing some of what you’ve experienced.

      Like

  22. There was a discussion above on the merits or otherwise of the Medjugorje visionaries. Today I read this quote from Pope Benedict: “Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness… Consequently, it is not the fact that we have never erred but our capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness which makes us saints. And we can all learn this way of holiness.” (See Pope Benedict’s catechesis on the Apostles p. 157). Worth sharing I thought.

    Read more: http://spiritualdirection.com/2014/10/31/holiness

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Thank goodness, Janet. If holiness consisted in having never sinned or erred, I could, with the old Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella, just say “Never mind,” and go about my business.

      Once, many years back, I was before a screening committee on a political matter. After all the vetting, a final question they asked of everyone was, “Do you have any skeletons in your closet that could embarrass us that have not been discussed here today.” An impish idea occurred to me – and so a said with great confidence, “No.” Some were astonished – and one had the wit to say, “You have no skeletons at all?!” To which I replied…oh, I have plenty of skeletons. I just can’t afford closets, so they’re all already out there for everyone to see.”

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s