After walking a mile to lunch and thinking about how I’d probably walked some 9-10 miles in total this week for transport I left the Mission House after a filling meal of chicken, rice and vegetables (my personal favourite here in Mabola). When I walked out the sliding glass door into the mid-day sunlight I saw this white kid with long hair, a rasta head cap, a grungy looking backpack and a guitar slung on his shoulder. This is how I met Witser (pronounced ‘Vitser’)
To say the least I was surprised to see another white guy walking down the main street in Mabola (now I understand all the people who stare at Elizabeth and I when they drive thru town). So I had to ask what he was doing. He told me that he was, “Just walking.” Really Sherlock? Anyways, I pressed him and found out he was walking from Nelspruit to Cape Town, about a distance of 1,600kms or 1,000 miles. Already 12 days into his journey he was looking pretty buggered and so I invited him for a moment of respite and the extras from our delicious lunch that day.
Over chicken, rice, vegetabls and salad I got to know a little more about this guy and his crazy journey from practically one end of South Africa to another. He was just walking saying he liked philosophy and this approximately 4 month-long journey would give him plenty of time to think. He’d studied carpentry and sound engineering and he was hoping to study film when he got to Cape Town and maybe one day open up his own filming studio. Sweet. He’d gone through Swaziland, slept in pine forests and rubbish dumps and now was on his way to Volksrust and the N11 before heading south to the coast. This man was on a journey of discovery – discovery of himself.
I must admit the sojourner inside me got a little jealous at this journey of his (but I had to remember I’d done my own journey from SoCal to SoUtah 🙂 and was living in a foreign country) and wanted to take off tomorrow for some distant place. However, reality settled back in and I decided instead to help him along the way and repay the generosity I received from others when I was travelling in the South West.
His trek also got me thinking about a few theological things…go figure. Right now Elizabeth and I are continuing our study of the classical spiritual disciplines and are in month 8 of 12. This month is solitude. I was already planning on taking a backpacking trip into the mountains once we return to Arizona, but now because of Witser I am doubly inspired. I was also inspired to remember our journey as sojourners in this world and citizens of heaven. As Witser looked worn and tired from the walking so do we as we try to live as sheep amongst wolves (Matthew 10:16). As Witser appreciated the help along the way so are we called to help others and receive help in our time of need. And finally, as Witser mentioned one of his favourite experiences walking with some random man from Swaziland for 20kms I thought about how much joy that brought him and wondered what am I doing right now to walk alongside someone else as they journey in life? It is good to have a companion (I thankfully have my wife with me all the time…let me tell you, one awesome travel buddy!) and so I wondered…”Who am I travelling with right now and what more can I do to help others along the way?”
Here’s to Witser – to his journey! Here’s to us – sojourners in this place! Here’s to Christ – the way!