Why We Got Stopped Multiple Times On The Highway

In a recent blog post, I mentioned how I would be visiting a Bendictine monastery on a pilgrimage in reparation for the “Black Mass” that was to be held on September 21 in Oklahoma City.  I finally went on that pilgrimage, and it was absolutely amazing! Rather than bust out a really long blog post recounting my experiences, I decided I’d do a brief series of blog posts highlighting different aspects.

The first half of our pilgrimage was a 4 hour drive to Wagoner, OK. From Holy Cross Catholic Church, we walked all the way to Clear Creek Abbey.

That’s about 22 miles. Here’s the route:

For safety and to help with keeping fresh legs, we had one of us drive our vehicular device up a few miles and wait for the rest of us to catch up. Once we all caught up, we’d switch out drivers and kept doing this along the way. If you’ll look up at the map, you’ll notice that we crossed via bridge over the lake. For that, we all hopped in the car and crossed because there is absolutely no pedestrian space and caulking our wagon and fording the lake wasn’t an option either. Apart from these times, we walked.

Six guys walking along the side of a highway isn’t particularly too interesting.  If anything, we’re probably deemed as crazy for walking along the shoulder with vehicular things zooming past at 45-60 MPH! Maybe it’s crazy that we were walking in the wind and rain. Maybe people thought we we were hiking. Maybe people got frustrated that they would have to take evasive maneuvers on the highway for our safety.

But a handful of people stopped and talked to us.

Why?

Why would these handful of people stop to talk to a bunch of guys taking up space on the side of the road?

The answer apparently was…

…because of the cross.

Seeing guys walking on the side of the road doesn’t really compel anyone to stop and talk to them.

Seeing guys carrying a large wooden with drizzle and rain and a cool breeze causes double-takes and prompts questions and photo requests.

It happened multiple times on our 21 miles of walking. Some highlights, in list form:

[1] We stopped to exchange the cross towards the beginning of our march, and a woman pulled up near us on the side of the highway. She was curious as to what we were doing and thought it was cool. Our DRE explained why. She took a picture. We took her prayer intention and wrote it on our cross (her family has a history of some sort of thyroid disease).

 Morgan approves!

[2] Another time we stopped to exchange the cross in front of a convenience store. The owner runs out, yells for us to put the cross down and come into his store. He wanted to offer us free food (fried chicken and potato wedges!) because he loved the fact that we had a cross out there with us. He must’ve seen us coming up the road… Inside his store, we met a wife and her husband who are trying to get a minstry started because the nearest churches are still kind of far away. We prayed with her and their ministry. The owner and his family were so incredibly nice and their generosity was very much appreciated.

[3] Half-way through, a woman stopped ahead of us, and waited for us to come up. She was curious as to what we’re doing and she wanted a picture. After we explained our purpose, we asked for her prayer request. She works at a local nursery, where that very day they were having to lay off a lot of people. We passed by it on our walk and it is pretty huge so I can’t imagine how many people had to lose their jobs that day.

[4] We stopped at the last convenience store before the monastery because…well, they stopped us. Apparently someone passing by on the highway had seen us and called ahead to make sure the convenience store employees stopped us. That someone was from their volunteer fire department. She thought it was pretty cool that we were walking with a cross and so she bought us free drinks at the convenience store.

[5] This was more planned and intentional, but our DRE made contact with a mutual friend who lives near the monastery. They made arrangements to meet us and feed us at the aforementioned volunteer fire department where we were fed a delicious tomato basil soup and tuna sandwich meal. Homemade. Absolutely delicious after 15 miles of walking, and with it raining outside. There’s a wonderful community of about 100 people who live just outside of the monastery, and they often help the monks out as well as visitors to the monastery.

[7] On the last stretch towards the monastery, a woman who lived on that road was driving past us and stopped to talk to us for a while. Traffic had to evade. She too was curious as to what we’re doing and we explained. She also thought it was cool. Her prayer intention was for the football game that night for no injuries.

Oh, and none of these people were Catholic, except for those we met up with in [5]. But that doesn’t matter because the cross unites us as Christians.

I mean, in addition to all of these examples, we had a good handful of appreciative/affirming car honks from strangers and passersby.

These experiences made me realize in a very real and first-hand way that the cross is our sign for victory and hope. Our Christian brothers and sisters know very well of this fact so seeing the cross being carried is enough to give pause and wonder, especially for those we encountered on our long, rainy, cold march towards the monastery.

“We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.”
– JD

Pictures courtesy of myself and my companions.