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Sojourn for that which is holy

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Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I write this from a little motel outside of Rawlins, Wyo. I'm on a trek of sorts, a "sojourn." I'm en route to Kansas City for evangelist Billy Graham's crusade, as well as a visit to Liberty Jail in Missouri, and any other religious wonders that come my way.

I could have flown, but it's hard to see the tumbleweeds and smell the rain from 30,000 feet. Besides, something in the blood says a "sojourner" should ease himself along the ground.

This isn't my first little quest. It won't be my last. And with each one, I always recall reading Russell Hoban's tribute to pilgrims, the novel "Pilgermann." The book touched my heart when I was young and impressionable. Now that I'm old and jaded, it touches me still.

In the novel, Hoban takes us back to the year 1060 A.D. and shows us a tailor on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During his trek, Jesus appears to him. And like the rich, young man in the Bible, the tailor wants to know the cost of the kingdom.

Jesus tells him, "Life moves by exchanges; loss is the price of gain. Some pay with one thing, some with another. Whatever is most dear, that is my price."

The tailor asks him why.

"The only wholeness is in letting go," Jesus says. "And I am the letting go."

Let go of the world and live.

I have a feeling that will be Billy Graham's message in Kansas City.

As for "things most dear," I think of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. He had given up everything — family, freedom, friends, belongings and his reputation. Eventually the "price" would include his life.

I think of that as I tool along I-80 in an air-conditioned car, listening to CDs and eating popcorn. The price I am paying for this "sojourn" is pretty slim. One day, I'm sure I will be asked to let go of more.

But for now, I'm outward bound. In the next couple of weeks in this column, I'll take a look at Billy Graham, Mormon Missouri and maybe get a glimpse of the famous chapel in Kansas City designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

He built the chapel hoping technology would one day find a way to put a steeple of light on it.

Technology caught up to him last year.

But this afternoon the highway awaits. Where most pilgrimages are a trip out to find the holy, in many ways, I feel I've left what's holy to find what's new. I apologize to the Mormon pioneers for reversing their grand trek.

Nevertheless, I hope what I find is of value to me and to you as well.

E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com