"Though I couldn't remember who said it, the words, 'You never really know your land until you walk it' came to me. Canadian thistles had sprung up in multitudes. I had slung on my backpack sprayer and was killing them so they wouldn't overwhelm the wildflowers and prairie grasses. Though I had driven over the property many times before, during this walk I sensed the subtle risings and fallings in the land that looks flat to the eye or feels flat to the tush on a tractor. The soles of my feet communicated to my soul the infinite variety of topography on our nine-acre prairie — soft ground, hard ground, mats of grass, and thick stems of ironweed. My 'eye-view' was lower than usual, too, so I saw the ground and growth differently — rattlesnake master and brown-eyed Susans beginning to bloom, bluestem grass reaching slowly toward the sun. There were rabbits where there'd been no rabbits before, butterflies fluttering by, and red-winged blackbirds calling out, warning me not to come too close to their nests.

"All in all, besides increasing my love of the place I call home, my walk that day drove home the responsibility I have to keep the land tended as well as I can so that someday there will be even more rabbits, butterflies, deer, and someday, wild turkey and quail. It reminded me of the joyous, ecstatic creativity of God when this was all called into being by a word. It reminded me that I'm a more attentive person to God around me when I'm walking than I am when I'm mechanized — whether driving across the prairie or speeding through life. Walking fits with the pilgrim life. God has opened the way for me to be a father, grandfather, husband, boss, writer, and tree and prairie grass farmer for a reason. I have a responsibility to live up to the way. 'And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." '

"Walking the prairie is also a part of the path of God's continuing revelation to me. This is another part of the responsibility of the way — the responsibility of continual learning and deepening. The actual act of walking the prairie is spiritually renewing, but it is also a metaphor for how I should be moving through life — which is with my spiritual feet on the ground feeling the terrain and my spiritual eyes following the path and looking for the signs that will help me navigate successfully. Those signs come in a variety of ways — through people I meet, books that friends think I should read, music I hear, a question I'm asked. All of life, when we live as pilgrims, is a spiritual experience — an opportunity for living deeper into God's grace."