by RICK ZECK
Have you heard the expression: “We need to stop and smell the roses,” which refers to our crazy fast-paced lifestyle and how we sometimes miss the small things in life? Monday, September 21, without any fanfare, a very curious couple walked through Rockford. They not only smell the roses, but look for the small things.
Husband and wife Mike Metras and Petra Wolf are walking from California to Jerusalem and Rockford, Michigan was on their way east. You did not read it wrong—they are walking nearly 8,000 miles over a two-year period on a pilgrimage.
Many of us have dreams, but the reality is, life happens, and most of us never get a chance for those dreams to materialize. Mike and Petra are living their dream and walking with awareness of each and every day. Sounds bizarre?
After sitting down and talking with this fascinating couple, it made me think maybe what we do is bizarre. These modern-day pilgrims are on a journey to meet and talk to people and to be ambassadors of dreams. They are touching lives and getting people to think about their own dreams. Strangers can get a chance to see first-hand someone who is living their dream one day at a time. The couple does this because there are no guarantees for tomorrow and they did not want to waste another day.
“So why walk to Jerusalem?” I asked these wandering travelers.
“Jerusalem may be the goal, but the journey is the destination,” said Mike.
The journey is the destination—now that is a deep thought. Aren’t we all on a journey, or are we just too busy to see where we are today on our life’s journey?
Mike further stated some words of walking wisdom, “Each of our lives is unique. Live each and every day leaving yesterday as just a memory.”
How much does this couple love to walk? Before Petra met Mike she walked alone from her home in Germany to Camino de Santiago, Spain (the Way of St. James, a Christian pilgrimage), covering 1,400 miles. Together, they have since walked Camino twice, Germany to Rome (775 miles), and now California to Jerusalem.
You can follow all their incredible journeys from their website at www.walkingeast.com and www.walkingwithawareness.com.
Averaging 14 miles a day, the couple is eight months into their current pilgrimage. They are not walking for a cause or raising monies, but just walking through life. Other than the weather, which for the most part has been cooperative, the goodness of people has been the one thing that has embraced this couple the most along their path. Words of encouragement or a place to eat or stay are some of the gifts received by the wandering strangers.
Petra, a workshop and vision quest guide, pilgrimage guide and environmental engineer, has studied shamanism and walked several European pilgrimages. Mike, an author, photographer, pilgrimage guide and retired technical writer, has also studied shamanism and theology, walked several European pilgrimages and has written several books. They hope whenever they return—who knows when—they will continue to share their experiences through workshops and slide shows.
Jerusalem is certainly the goal that drives their pilgrim hearts, but when they get there, who knows—right now, they are on a journey.