Rich Paxson

In the Discussion Forum for this module, join the conversation around these questions: Describe someone who has been a mentor in your life. What about this person inspired you? What qualities or abilities of your mentor did you try to incorporate into your life? How did those qualities or abilities express themselves in your life?

When April arrives each year, as it has now, I begin my daily four-mile pilgrimages. Rain or shine, I walk through nearby Mason City’s neighborhoods http://bit.ly/2nfLUPt accompanied by Harry Caldwell, Professor of Geography and my graduate advisor at the University of Idaho. Harry was a significant mentor in my life. Although Harry died many years ago, he remains with me on my walks because it was he who introduced me to the significance and meaning of borders in spatial analysis.

Now as I walk through Mason City, I search for evidence revealing the many natural and artificial boundaries that signal the end of one and the beginning of the next neighborhood. I wonder how and why these areas of town differ as I cross the boundaries separating one region from another. What’s it like to live in the central business district? How would my life change if I lived in nearby, expensive areas like Rock Glen or River Heights? Homeowners there surround their communities with stone walls. One wonders if they allow pilgrims to walk along their secluded bluffs or down below in the river valley.

How then can I relate my urban area walks to my faith journey? Jesus, the Forgiving Victim, walks alongside in my daily peregrinations firmly yet lovingly encouraging me to engage the people I meet. The Rev. Marlin Whitmer, another of my mentors, used a Greek term for Jesus’s companionship – ‘parakaleo,’ which means walking alongside. http://bit.ly/2nNSxF7

I thought of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales when I began writing this. Now, equally as unbidden here in the last paragraph, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ 1963 song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” http://bit.ly/2oIiXMB comes to mind. We all need neighbors as we walk through life, whether we live in the fourteenth, the twentieth, or the twenty-first century. Daily walking “restoreth my soul” http://bit.ly/2pd71hT as the Psalmist wrote. Mentors; chance encounters – human and canine; the past, present, and future all dance within the steps of each daily pilgrimage.