Friday, October 14, 2011

Faith Works 10-15

Faith Works 10-15-11

Jeff Gill


We make the road by walking





We travel, one step at a time, swinging out our bodies, off balance, into space. If we don't lean forward, push ourselves just beyond where we're stable and secure, we can't stride forward with a leg out to catch us.


Walking. There's a rhythm you have to find, a steady pace, a consistent passage from here into just ahead that becomes a thing in and of itself, the journey.


Antonio Machado, the Spanish poet, wrote "Se hace camino al andar," or "We make the road by walking." That's part of what the community CROP Walk is about, gathering tomorrow at First Baptist Church in Newark at 1:00 pm. "We walk because they walk" is the running theme for this ecumenical effort to respond to the challenge of hunger and famine and under-development for people around the world; local hunger needs are addressed as well, with a quarter of the amount pledged to walkers going to Licking County food programs.


There's also a walk concluding around 2:00 pm at Octagon State Memorial on Sunday, the final mile of the "Walk with the Ancients" which has gone from Chillicothe to Newark now with a third group of pilgrims on the way.


Sunday is the fourth of four "open house" dates annually at the part of the Newark Earthworks found at 33rd St. and Parkview Rd. Leased for a century to Moundbuilders Country Club, the Octagon and attached circle will be open to the public for general access, and tours from noon to 4 pm.


The walkers of the 60-plus mile trek actually returned to Newark and the OSU campus here in town a few weeks ago, where most of this group are students. Their "final mile" of the actually 72 they travel was saved until tomorrow, when they could enter the Octagon along the path traveled by pilgrims 2,000 years ago. You may help welcome them around 2:00 pm at the Octagon Open House.


From where all did these original builders and pilgrims travel? Some hints come from the archaeological record, and a new exhibit opens this weekend in Columbus at the Ohio History Center which emphasizes both the Ohio Middle Woodland period, also called the "Hopewell Culture," and Newark's place in that cosmos 2,000 years ago.


"Following in Ancient Footsteps" is the theme of this exhibit, and a series of "Faces From the Past" gaze calmly back at you at the entrance to the new area – including the Wray Figurine, also known as the "Shaman of Newark." A person, male or female we don't know, in a bearskin costume, looking into . . . the future? Even as we look closely back through the glass of the display case, trying to see more clearly into the past.


And as we have all these journeys and pathways and stories unspooling around us, there is a movie coming to this area in another week which I hope to see, and I hope you do, too. It's called "The Way," and is a labor of love by Martin Sheen and his son (no, not that one) Emilio Estevez, who has returned to his father's pre-acting family name.


Father and son have gone to Spain, and made a movie about a pilgrimage, to Santiago de Compostela. Sheen plays a man who decides that he needs to make this pilgrim's journey by foot, from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic coast, and into the shrine church that is the goal of those who walk this path, "The Way." He didn't plan on the journey, isn't really sure he wants to do it, but he finds that he must, and he does.


Truly, while I know more about the plot, I'd rather just invite you to go on the trip in your own way, and find out for yourself. But it's double delightful that these events occur all together, for as my friend Brad Lepper has been working as curator of archaeology for OHS and the new exhibit, and on the study of the "Great Hopewell Road" between Newark & Chillicothe these last many years, the metaphor we've both used in trying to explain what the journey might have been for the Hopewell culture has been: Santiago de Compostela.


Wherever your weekend takes you, may you be blessed by the journey, and remember: "Se hace camino al andar," "We make the road by walking."


Or "the Way."



Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher in central Ohio; tell him your story at or follow Knapsack @Twitter.