Bequeathing an inheritance

Tonight I write as a mother.  I feel like I have bequeathed an inheritance to my son.  But not in money.  And certainly not deliberately. But, as so often happens in life, one thing does lead to another.

My son, Jon, is hiking the Appalachian trail, a journey of 2181 miles.  He is traveling alone, except for the prayers of his wife and his parents and all those who love him.  It will take him 5 months.  He has to carry all he needs for food, clothing and shelter on his back. (Food can be replenished along the way.)  It is perhaps, at least partially, my fault.  Or maybe, it is just in the family’s genes.  Or maybe, hopefully, God has something to do with it in spite of genes and chromosomes.

For those of you across oceans who are not familiar with east coat of the USA, the Appalachian Trail runs along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains stretching from the Georgia to Maine…and a lot of states  in between.  If you want to follow his progress or know why in heck he is doing this, you can check out his blog, “There and Back Again” at

Why is it my fault?  When he was a boy, I used to take him hiking on the trail where it passes near to our home in Pennsylvania, the halfway mark.  But that’s not all.  Three years ago I went on my own walking pilgrimage from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh…not nearly as strenuous, not nearly as long, but just as focused on listening to God’s direction and guidance.  I subsequently wrote an account of that walk, spiritual as well as physical, which he read and has taken to heart.  Now he has written his own walking prayer.  He has set his own goals   He has set up his own blog. He has taken off on his own journey for his own reasons.
I remember the feeling of excitement, the miles of sameness, the endless trees, the crises of fear, the surprising joy of meeting new people, the rhythms of  living according to light-dark-sun-moon that will most likely be part of his adventure  as well.  I remember walking in the moment, surrounded by God’s living presence in  all creation.

I pray for all that wonder to be with him…and with his dear wife, Tera, who is sending him off by driving him to Springer Mountain, Georgia, as I write this, and then driving many hours back to her job as a resident director at a Christian college.  None of us can travel through life without the support of others.  Thus, separated by miles, Jon needs Tera.

What they are doing defies common sense.  Yet pray for them both, that God will be shaping them for their vocation to help others know Christ.  Ever since Abraham, Moses, and even Jesus, God has used walking and journeying to form people into followers of faith.


  1. Well, PE, You planted the seed, nurtured it, now Jon is grown. As I read your post, I have a feeling of being proud of the both of you, I actually got goose bumps. You must be proud, yet a bit nervous.

    Peace be with you both.

  2. Nervous? Yes, hiking alone is not the best. Proud? Well, I’m a mother…

  3. Alone…. my thoughts exactly.

  4. Praying right now and with you for your son’s safety and that much growth will take place in the process. What a brave young man! I am going to take a look at his blog.

  5. Thanks for your continued support, love, and prayers of Jon and of me. We need it right now. God has placed this calling in our lives for the time being. It’s not easy. But I’m excited to see what will become of it.

  6. I’m envious of Jon, having read Bill Bryson’s account of the Appalachian trail, and also Having walked some of the Camino Santiago. I’ll be calling in on his blog from time to time and remembering him in my still times.

  7. Thank you all for your supportive prayer.