Faith Walking

On February 2, 2002, Don Vermilyea hopped off a bus in Tuscon, picked up his backback and started walking.

12,379 later, he's still going.

Vermilyea, a Church of the Brethren volunteer, is walking across America, visiting churches and talking about Jesus. His message, according to his website, is a simple one:
—that the church "must continue the work of Jesus: Peacefully, Simply, Together."

Apparently, Vermilyea is persistent but not very task-oriented, as he's been walking
for 2 years and not crossed the Mississippi yet.

Peter Jenkins made a name for himself with his walk across America, in the 1970s, and since then, dozens of people have made the same trip. Some are on pilgrimage, some raising funds or political awareness, some, like Jenkins, are in search of themselves.

There are variations of the walk. Mike McIntyre hitchhicked across the US without a penny is his pocket in 1996. His book on his trip is worth the read, as is this 1996 Salon story on the trip:

Again and again McIntyre found himself picked up by "damaged souls," people who nevertheless had "a great amount of hope, a stubborn capacity to help other people." He was taken in by giant Midwestern families crammed into tiny trailers, their multi-generational disasters and tragedies proudly displayed as they stuffed him with pancakes, fried chicken and biscuits before sending him packing with prayers and sandwiches for the road. One remote farming family in South Dakota had so little water that they had to share bath water, but still made sure McIntyre had a hot shower. For good measure they took him to church and showed him how to shear a lamb. "A lot of the time I felt like I was walking through a collection of Raymond Carver stories, of people living on the margins, finding reason to get up in the morning, finding value in their wretched lives," McIntyre now recalls. And one of the great things about "The Kindness of Strangers" is how McIntyre captures the complex and varied lives of the fantastically "normal" people who helped him on his journey.


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