Ten people from Trinity and St. John’s Episcopal Church recently completed a 30-mile walk along the Great River State Trail/Flyway Trail from La Crosse, WI to Winona, MN. This walking pilgrimage, the 2nd “Walk A Way,”  was a chance to experience nature while learning to be still and listen to God. Unique accommodations added to the special atmosphere of this trip. The first night was spent at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse and the second night at the Alverna Center on St. Mary’s University campus in Winona.

Besides the leaders, Becky Elsbernd from Trinity and Father Stephen Benitz from St. John’s, seven other walkers were: Sam Hunt, Kay Larson, Jane Carlson, Garrett True, Joann Johnson, Jane Reynolds and Karen Jacobs. Michelle Murray served as the “sag driver.”

Elsbernd, co-leader of the Walk A Way and 2nd time participant, shared: “The Walk A Way Pilgrimage is a unique opportunity to be surrounded by nature with intentional time to connect with oneself, each other and God. It’s amazing to see the Spirit move in and among us as we journey together.”

Jacobs, a 1st time participant, added: “The Pilgrimage was so much more than a walk. It was seeing God in friendships, seeing God in nature, and seeing God in yourself.”

Kay Larson, another 1st timer, mentioned, “There’s no better way of feeling closer to God than receiving ‘nature therapy’ in his beautiful creation! It was fun getting to know fellow pilgrims, too. It was definitely a time to get away and focus on the present. Fabulous experience!”

Reynolds, a 2nd time participant, shared that she was “more prepared physically this time but also spiritually and mentally.” Reynolds said the time for solitary walking was the Pilgrimage’s greatest gift to her. “I was able to breathe, focus, and be present in the moment–something difficult for me. The practice of being present and silent are skills I can build on.”

Feel free to ask any of the participants about this meaningful trip with a purpose. Better yet, start walking and think about joining the next Walk A Way, coming again this September 10-12! †