This Is Our Westward Expansion

This morning I left Gainesville, Florida and now I am on the road to the western part of USA. Two friends and I are going to travel the country for the next 6 weeks. We’ll mostly focus on going to national parks, seeking to see the beauty of what this land has to offer. We will live in hammocks, in tents, and on the road. We’ll go as far north as the Pacific Northwest, we’ll go as far west as Los Angeles, and as deep as the Grand Canyon.

I have dreamt of a trip like this for years. When I was a Freshman in college I read a book called Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, where he documents a road trip he went on with one of his buddies. Miller talks about how he found God and understood beauty in a new way during the trip, and how his senses were sharpened though the change that life on the road pushed upon him. That book sparked a desire in my soul to take a trip of my own, to see more of the land that I was born in. Over the years this desire has grown, and I have felt the call to stake some part of myself into taking this trip.

On one end, I am so excited for this adventure. Excited for the beauty of what lies ahead, excited for my senses getting pushed upon by the massive nature I’ll encounter, excited for the good times that I’ll have with friends. There is another end where I am afraid, I left a lot of good things in Florida that I love and will miss, and it’s also a risky move to spend a lot of your money all in one place (so I hear). In the end though, I know that I will be okay, that I will return to Florida and to my life there, and that’s a good thing. I think that it’s important to leave for a time, to see new places and spaces. So that a person can return and appreciate their home in new ways, and contribute in new ways. If one of my hopes in life is to grow deeper in soul and mind, then I believe this trip will play a roll in my expansion and growth.

So here I go, on this big trip. I hope to find God in new and different ways. Again and again and again returning to the truth that I am loved completely and perfectly by the creator of the universe. He wants to dazzle us, I think, so I want to keep my eyes and my ears and my heart open for it.

I’ll keep you posted on this adventure.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures: markragland


“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there!”

Gandalf the Grey



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