Traveling on Trust
A Pilgrim's Tale
Editor's Note: Amy Depew, 39, of the Holy Family Parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma, traveled to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in 2013. She hopes to use her journey to inspire others to let go and trust God.
For almost three weeks, it was just me, the road, and God. I left my home and family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on April 2, 2013, five days before Divine Mercy Sunday, with only a $1.50 in my pocket and jewelry I'd made to sell to buy gasoline and food. I had more than 1,400 miles to travel, but I trusted God completely to get me there.
I'd decided to journey to Divine Mercy Sunday so that I could heal. I had a great amount of bitterness in my heart towards someone who had hurt me deeply. I tried and tried, but no matter how hard I prayed, fasted, repented, or sought the Lord, I couldn't get past this bitterness. The wounds they left and the spite I felt were keeping me from the mercy God intended for me.
While I was on the road, I listened to Christian music, to preachers on the radio, or prayed the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. I also prayed for God to remove the bitterness from me, and to bless those who had done wrong by me.
God kept me fed, warm, and safe. People were interested in the jewelry I was selling and my reason behind it. At one gas station, a police officer pulled up beside me. I was afraid—loitering in the area was illegal—and I prayed to God for his protection. But I felt brave enough to tell the officer about my journey, about how I was just trying to put gas in my car so I could make it to Divine Mercy Sunday. And the officer listened. And he left me in peace to sell my jewelry.
The coldest night of my journey happened three days in. I was driving through Pennsylvania, and I found out it was supposed to drop to the thirties overnight. I didn't have any money for a hotel--I'd been sleeping in the back of my jeep--and all I had were a few blankets and the clothes on my back.
So that night, when I pulled over so I could rest, I asked God if he would please keep me warm. And I slept soundly and comfortably through the night. The next morning when I woke up, it was 35 degrees. And it didn't affect me at all.
I made it to the Shrine for Divine Mercy Sunday. There were tens of thousands of people there for the Mass celebrated at the outdoor shrine. And I remember the priest's homily from that day. He said, "I want you to take a moment and silence your heart. Right now, think of the person who has hurt you so deeply that it is impossible to forgive them. Think of them, right now, and forgive them anyways."
At that moment, I felt a huge burden lifted from my shoulders, and I wept. After the Mass, I went back to the outdoor Shrine, and I knelt on my knees in the mud in front of the Divine Mercy Image. I felt so grateful that God had gotten me there safely, so that I was able to let go of the bitterness in my heart.
To get back to Oklahoma, I took the long way along the East Coast to visit some friends and share my story with them. I experienced more miracles and kindness over the next two weeks that brought me home safely. On my way to Virginia, I suddenly felt like I should pull over. I didn't know why, but I felt like God was telling me to get off the road. So I waited. A little while later, when I was back on the road, I saw the remnants of a six car pile-up that had happened at the same time I would've been in that spot on the highway had I not pulled over.
Later, on my way to Alabama, I stopped at a gas station between Little Rock and Portsmouth. I was setting up to sell some jewelry, and I saw a homeless woman sitting by herself across the parking lot. Her clothes were tattered, her face dirty beneath her unkempt hair, her few possessions stuffed into the rumpled bags around her. I had a bag of chips and a bottle of water in my jeep, so I walked over to her and offered her the water and chips, both of which she firmly refused. She then reached into her bag and pulled out a wrinkled five dollar bill, and said, "Take this, you need this more than I do."
It was my turn to refuse, but she insisted and persisted, pressing the bill at me. So, for her kindness, I offered her a turquoise and silver bracelet. And I noticed that when she put the bracelet in her bag, she had a Bible in there. And this Bible was dog-eared, marked up, clearly she read it a lot. I thanked her and turned to go. When I got back to my jeep across the lot, there was no sign of her. She and her bags were gone, they were nowhere in the vicinity.
After three weeks, I made it home. Sometimes, the bitterness begins to creep back. But I remember the day I wept beneath the Divine Mercy Image, and I remember the long journey during which God protected me and provided for me completely. And I trust that God will help me keep the bitterness in check.
We can't heal when we hold spite in our hearts, it eats away at us, makes us sick, and forces us to push God out. And then we can't be everything God wants us to be.
If I had to do it all again tomorrow--the journey, that is-- I would do it in a heartbeat. Because frankly, stepping out on a limb like that, taking a trip clear across the country with no other resource but the Lord, it makes you realize just how much God looks out for us. We trust our family, friends, our jobs, our money, but we rarely put everything aside and just focus on trusting God. But when we do, it truly changes our lives.