Take nothing with you . . .

Posted by Patrice Tuohy
Saturday 08, August 2009 | Category:   Consecrated Life

You may have seen the news story about the group of Franciscan friars-in-training who along with two older

Friars at their journey's end.

friars walked from Roanoke, Virginia to Washington, D.C. The idea was, in the words of the Washington Post, "to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi . . . to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep," and by so doing help form themselves in the Franciscan spirit.

They took no money-what people pressed on them they spent on food and gave the rest away-and made no plans to have a roof over their heads. Their destination was the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land near Catholic University in Washington, which for them had a symbolic meaning as the close of their trip.They have a website about their journey. Their journey echoed Jesus' command to the disciples he sent out ahead of him to "take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money-not even an extra tunic" (Luke 9:3). "Anything can happen when you live in the moment, one step at a time," said one of the older friars. "But to find that out, you have to be willing to take that one step."

Needless to say they attracted a lot of attention. "Dressed like we are in our habits," another said, "it's like a walking sign that says, 'Tell us your life's problems.' " And of problems they did hear: relationship-difficulty-afflicted commuters poured out their hearts; a woman who had recently kicked out her husband and daughter told them her troubles. They chatted with a group of intoxicated bikers. Others who had no idea who they were thought them to be on their way to a Star Wars convention. Some kids took them for Shaolin monks. At the Lincoln Memorial folks wanted their picture taken with them. On one occasion the local police wanted to know what they were up to.

Along the Lee Highway in Fairfax, Va. a woman and her three children picked them up in her minivan and took them out to eat at Chik-fil-A. "It was the oddest experience sitting there at Chik-fil-A with everyone staring at us," the woman said. "The high point was when the guy dressed up like a cow came out and gave us all high fives. He was in costume. They were in robes. A lot of people were wondering what was going on."

Their outdoor sleep locations included a trampoline next to a firehouse (one moved, they all moved); picnic tables behind a church; and five nights on the Appalachian Trail. Indoor locales were the home of a tattooed and toothless Native American healer (where they spent the night exchanging gospel/Native stories and double flute playing/Latin hymn chanting); a Trappistine abbey; Catholic churches; a Baptist church; a church deacon's basement; a police academy barracks; and several nights in the "homes of strangers."

Read the full story with photo gallery.

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