My dear friend Scaughdt has compiled his trek’s profound learning, experiences, and musings into an absolutely profound opus or tome. I cannot say and words fail me to describe the intense joy and encouragement that I have derived from reading of his pilgrimage for love, peace, and radical kindness. The main content of which can be found on his website by following the the link:

Journey of the Numinous Nomad

Below is an excerpt from from the journey which I find not only inspiring, encouraging, and elucidating, but also challenging. It is with a deep feeling of gratefulness that I share my brothers words with you.

So, back to our story … There I was, having walked all day on nothing more than one cup of green tea, when I happened upon Pine Grove Baptist Church — and there were cars in the parking lot!  Not more than a few hours removed from my decision to relay The Way of Jesus Christ to Christians, and I get my first chance to do so.

To be honest, I was more than a bit nervous as I entered the church and sat down in one of the front pews.  I knew generally what I had to share, and yet how was I going to share it?  And what if those hearing me got angry or became otherwise upset?  Should I just stand up at an opportune pause in the preacher’s sermon and fire away?  That didn’t seem Respect-full – and I knew that it was not the right way.  But what was the right way?  Jesus’ words from the Bible kept echoing through my head – “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At the right time you will be given what to say.” (Matthew 10:19 – see also Luke 12:11 & Mark 13:11)  This calmed me somewhat, and I hunkered down to listen to the service and await my time …

As it turned out, my time came immediately after the service was over, when I simply stood with everyone else, turned towards the congregation, and announced that I had an important message to share.  The room became completely still as all eyes turned upon me … “This is it”, I thought, as I took a deep breath and let something very similar to the following words flow from me:

“Greetings Friends!

I am currently on a long Pilgrimage – heading from Chattanooga all the way to southern Florida.  I am walking on Faith, using no money at all as I go, and I am doing so to share some important information about The Way of Jesus Christ with everyone I meet along the way.

As your pastor mentioned in his sermon, one of the goals of any good Christian is to adhere to the teachings of the Apostle Paul – to worship Jesus Christ in order to attain personal redemption — to then enter Heaven after death and live there with God forever.  This is indeed a fine thing, and I am sincerely happy that all of you seem to have attained this Salvation.

And yet one other all-Important questions remains – a question that every Christian must face and answer:  Are you following The Way of Jesus Christ?  Are you doing what Jesus wanted us all to do in the time between your redemption and your death?  Are you practicing Jesus’ teachings in these times while you are still alive; in these few moments you have left before ascending into your eternal splendor?

It is not for me to answer this question for you.  Indeed, how can I do so and remain “humble as a child”?  Yet what I can do is what I have been Called by the Spirit to do – and that is to remind us all what Jesus commanded of us.

As we all know, Jesus gave us only two Commandments that must be followed for us to enter his Kingdom:  we must Love God with all our hearts, and we must do so by loving our neighbor as ourselves.  We have heard this many times – and yet what does this really mean?

We have all been taught that these Commandments mean that we are to be thankful for those friends and family closest to us – that we are to care for these “neighbors” with warm emotions and kind thoughts.  And yet this is NOT what Jesus himself meant by these terms.

Jesus defined “Love” as a verb.  “Love” for Jesus was not a thought or a feeling at all, but instead was a Good Deed one did for another.  “If you understand these teachings, blessed are you while you do them”, he admonished in John 13:17.  And his very first parable – the Parable of the Sower – makes it clear that those who are Saved are the ones who “hear the word and understand it, and who then indeed bear fruit” (Matthew 13:23).  For Jesus, “Love” is an act of Kindness towards another — It is something that must be done, not merely felt or thought.

Even more importantly, Jesus defined “neighbor” only once in the entire New Testament – and he did so with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:29-37).  Here, the hero of Jesus’ tale – the one who qualifies as a “neighbor” – is a Samaritan, at that time the bitterest cultural enemy of the Jews.  In addition, this Samaritan was a “neighbor” not because he was nice or friendly or moral towards another.  No, he was a “neighbor” for Jesus because he “showed mercy” – something we can only do for another who has wronged us; for an enemy!  For Jesus, then, the “neighbor” he references in his second Commandment is not a friend or a family member or even a fellow church-goer.  The “neighbors” towards whom we are to extend our acts of Kindness are our enemies, those in our lives who are “least deserving” of our Love – those to whom we least wish to give the same.

In conclusion, we might indeed be Saved in the hereafter – we might indeed all enter Paul’s Heaven after our deaths.  And yet the question that remains is:  will we enter the Heaven of which Jesus spoke?  Will we have the courage to follow his Commandments in these few moments we have left before we die?  Will we have the courage to set forth this very minute and commence actively caring for those people in our lives whom we least admire – those who annoy us the most – those whose religious beliefs are different than our own — those treating us most poorly?

Let us all go forth tonight and begin our lives anew, not only as “good Christians”, but also as active followers of the Way of Jesus Christ.

For it is to this purpose that you have been Called by your Lord & Savior”

Well, as you can imagine, the room was pretty quiet when I got finished.  Then the “spell” broke and folks began to disperse.  Quite a few of them came up to me and asked me questions about the Pilgrimage – questions which finally got around to discussing how I was getting food without any money.  I told them matter-of-factly that I was fasting until offered food, whereupon several of the ladies present began scurrying about to find me something to eat.  They didn’t find anything for me, and yet just their sincerely caring intention to do so proved to be nourishing. Besides, I was feeling pretty “high” from my “sermon” and felt no hunger at all as I left the church.

And as I was bidding them all farewell and heading back out towards the road, a woman came up to me and gave me a pack of Ritz crackers and a bag of Skittles.  I had to really work hard to compose myself & suppress the deep laugh that was begging to fly from my lips – as these were two of the foods that I had recently sworn never to eat again.  “God certainly does seem to have quite the sense of humor!”, I thought.  And with that, I headed down the highway, happily munching on crackers and candy.

…………..

And yet this wasn’t the end of the story.

I didn’t have long to walk before I saw yet another church – the Indians Springs Church of God.  More cars were in the parking lot there as well, which meant yet another opportunity to share …

… so in I went.

This time, the service was in full swing by the time I got there, and it was quite the different vibe.   There was a man uttering a charismatic prayer from the pulpit as I entered, many in the congregation were swaying, and one woman was accompanying him by speaking in tongues.  This was pretty intense stuff, so I hunkered down in the back and honored their spiritual journey while waiting for my time to come …

And come it did, again as the service was ending, whereupon I once again stood calmly and gently boomed my message of radical Love – my call for others to actually walk The Way of Jesus.

Not only was I well received during my “sermon” (with many in the congregation openly supporting me as I spoke), but after I was finished a woman in the back pew asked if the entire congregation wouldn’t bless my Journey.  I thought that this blessing would be some sort of prayer led by the pastor.  Instead, I was called to the front of the church – whereupon the entire congregation gathered around, placed their hands upon me, and began blessing me vocally in unison.

It was a cascading syncopation of ululations, prayers for protection and well-wishes.  Each utterance was unique – all of different content & cadence, and yet each somehow fit seamlessly together; playing its priceless part within their “Symphony of Salvation”.  It really was quite moving, and I simply relaxed into the Love they were sending – eyes closed and hands raised to the heavens.

I remember praying as well, over & over again, to be used completely for the Highest Good of all – to be allowed to give my whole life for the betterment of Humanity.

It felt … simply … Wonder-full!

Needless to say, this experience was significantly more than I had bargained for when deciding to “speak to the masses”, and I left that holy place invigorated with a renewed sense of gratitude – both for this Pilgrimage, as well as for my amazing life in general.

And it was fortunate indeed that I had received this amazing boost of energy, for it was now dark, and there proved to be nowhere nearby for me to lay my head to rest … I had intended to walk to the next bench in order to get some sleep, and yet there were no benches to be found, so on I trudged through the night – a night that was becoming surprisingly chilly.

I did finally make it into Ringgold, where I came across the Midway Baptist Church.  I drank some water from the outside spigot there, and then tried to sleep on a picnic table underneath a tent-pavilion behind the church, and yet it was simply too cold.  Try as I might, I couldn’t fall asleep.  So, shivering and now hungry, I got up and meandered down the road into the darkness …

There was one more attempt at sleeping this night, and that came on a bench just outside the main entrance to the Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle.  Again, sleep eluded me – the bench was too short, it was under a street-light, and it really was freezing cold.

As I got up again to continue walking (it was the only way to stay warm), I put my hands into the pockets of my smock and felt something there – pulling out a five dollar bill that one of the members of the Indian Springs Church of God had surreptitiously placed there.  Many members of that congregation had offered me money before I left them, and I had explained gently yet firmly that I would not be accepting any money at all for the entire trip.  It must have been during the “hands of heaven” experience that one of them slipped that fiver into my smock.  I had to laugh at the audacity of that maneuver, especially when I had explained very clearly that it was important that I not use any money on this Pilgrimage.  And yet I knew the gesture was well-intended, and gave a prayer of thanks for its generosity as I folded up the bill and tucked it into the bush next to the bench where I had been resting.  I had faith that someone would find it someday; someone who would be needing it much more then than I did now.

This selfless gesture gave me a glowing warmth from within, and I set out once more into the night – with a purse once more empty, and a heart once more full …

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