Woke up early behind a plaza along the 90. Did a few stretches and started hydrating. I removed my sandals and started treading pavement.
It felt good. I walked my whole first week, which was good. It strengthened my legs towards long and arduous days on the road. Running barefoot was something I had been craving all week, but I held back until today.
It felt smooth, and light. Running equals more work than walking. That being said, running with a quick cadence equals less time on your feet than walking. You not only put weight on your legs less, but you cover more distance in a shorter time. It’s hard to wrap your head around.
I put in miles early. By 10AM I was at the Assumption Church, where I had been one week ago, just outside Jacksonville. I swung in to visit friends.
It was really good to see Deacon Dale! He offered me some food and I accepted. He also gave me some money for this pilgrimage. We caught up on my last week, and what I had experienced. We both found it amazing that I had visited Cenacolo: prayer warriors.
I made two sandwiches runners crave for: honey, peanut butter, banana, and nutella on honey wheat bread. Calories.
I received a blessing from Deacon Dale and Father Wade. Deacon Dale also blessed my rosary beads upon my request. I hung out there in the kitchen enjoying a nice midday break amongst company. I also met Alex and said hello to Kelly, the secretary, again.
Our ways parted after an oasis of conversation during a all-around busy day. I entered the chapel to spend some time in prayer with God. I snapped some photos of the beautiful grounds and headed west. Destination: the minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, downtown Jacksonville.
Walking inside a homeless man approached a parishioner asking for money. He refused and walked into the cathedral. I approached the homeless man and offered my help. He accepted and said he needed food. We promised to meet up after Mass.
Directly after the service a man came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder. He apologized for not helping the homeless man and asked me if I was going to help him. He handed me $5 dollars to help him out and introduced himself. His name is Blue (like the color).
I met my homeless friend, self dubbed Poncho, and handing him $5, related what had happened. Poncho was getting sick, a common issue with the homeless on the street. He wanted to turn to something bad to make himself feel better. I asked him if he had ever heard of St. Benedict, and he told me he had. I asked him if he ever prayed with him, and he told me he did as a child.
He had a travelers backpack much like mine, except his had holes and was literally falling apart. He asked me to push his clothes back into the bag from the bottom. Poncho went to the library to use the bathroom, and made me promise to be here when he got back. I did.
I ran to the gift shop and picked up a St. Benedict wooden medallion. I emptied out my backpack and awaited my friend.
Poncho came back smiling, happy that I had waited for him. I told him I had a gift for him, my backpack. He was so happy and could not believe it. I helped him load his new backpack and put it on him. We talked about St. Benedict, and I gave him the medallion to wear around his neck. He asked me to put it on him. I did.
His name is Chet, and he has been on the street in Jacksonville for 5 years. He is tired of having to deal with getting sick. He told me he would be praying to St. Benedict for 9 days. We parted ways.
I headed west. I met some friends:
JR, Chris, Annie, Reggie, Jeff, Jasmine, Tina, James, Tre, Donna, Vicky, Annet, Steve, Jarrod, Rebecca, Pat, Willie, Zacariel, Abel, Armamand, Tremaine, Vicky, and old man John. The gang of the downtown park. We shared what we had with one another. It was really special.
I headed west and found a Farmer’s Market just outside Jacksonville! Sang gave me some really good deals on over ripe fruit: bananas, mangos, and red oranges. When he was my age he used to travel on foot like what I’m doing. He lived in Canada, and walked from state to state. They called it “walkabout”.
A guy named Robert offered me something to eat and we talked about what I was doing, and the homeless in Jacksonville. I hung out and charged my phone, watching the comings and goings of the market.
Around closing time my phone was fully charged. I said goodbye and headed west. I put in a few more vigorous miles on foot. I was trying to chase the sun to a safe place to camp. About 6 miles outside Jacksonville I set up camp in a shipping and receiving area. I talked to a security guard and told him what I was doing. I felt safe, and got a good nights rest.
Miles: Roughly 22