By Jerry Costello for The Christophers
When Dan Reinke says “I think I’ll take a walk,” you’d better get out of the way. Because when Reinke speaks of “a walk,” somehow it comes out in capital letters—as it did this spring and summer, when Reinke literally walked from coast to coast, from a dip in the Pacific near Portland, Ore., to jumping into the Atlantic in Virginia Beach, Va. In between he covered 2,514 miles, and last August, when his journey came to an end, Reinke was able to say, “God has blessed me along the way.”
His trip took a lot of footsteps—5,404,877 of them, by actual count—and it was not without a purpose. Reinke took his walk, he said, to inspire people to greater things.
“God has been working on my heart,” he explained, “and I felt called to make a real change in my life…and the change has been great! I’m not asking you to change your vocation, but to take your faith to the next level…to take your faith seriously.”
It all began back in Forest Lake, Minn., where Reinke, 25, is a member of St. Peter’s Parish (and where Kristi Anderson wrote about him in The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese). Reinke wanted to do something special for the Year of Faith, and after talking it over with his pastor, decided on a pilgrimage—which turned out to be The Walk. Slowly it evolved: the things to take, the means of staying in touch, the starting and finishing points, the route. And then it was time to begin.
On the way Reinke found a lot of help, most of it from complete strangers. He would go on to thank them all, for “a donation, a meal, a place to sleep, a phone call or a text, a smile, a ride, a prayer, a song.” There were patches of land where he could pitch a tent, and every now and then, “a blessed shower.” He met park rangers and police officers (“where the emphasis was on service and friendliness”).
At each town he entered Reinke would seek out a parish—where, with luck, he might attend daily Mass. He’d look for parks, or for libraries where he could update his website with news of his journey. On one of them along the way, he had written, “God is moving and at work in this world.”
On Aug. 11, 99 days after he began his incredible trek in Oregon, Reinke tore off his boots, ran across the sand, and leaped into the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach. Then, taking time to reflect on what had happened, he could hardly believe that the journey was over: no roadways to seek out the next day, no wondering where the next meal was coming from (or if there might be one), no more need to keep going on, and on, and on. The walk was finally finished.
And, yet it would always stand, a symbol of one person’s determination to say something dramatic about what he believed in.
“In this Year of Faith, this is a trip of faith,” Dan Reinke said. “It’s a lesson in relying on God every day and at every encounter. It will also be a way for me to look back on all the ways God has showered his blessings on me.”
For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, GROWING IN FAITH, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Spiritual Matters