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This mom’s travels through faith

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Voyage through doors of churches

Erika and her 3-year-old son are undertaking a unique journey — uprooting their old lives and journeying across America, staying at a church at each stopping point along the way.

The churches

SK: Where do you plan on staying during your travels?

Erika: That is one of the highlights of this trip. In many cases, we are going to be staying in the churches themselves. I love the continuity of that, having had two months at our own St. Ann's, and then waking up in the glow of stained glass across the nation. It also gives me the chance to take photos in many different kinds of light. You are not as flexible when you are traveling with a 3-year-old. Being at the churches themselves gives us a photo opportunity at dawn and dusk, regardless of his sleep schedule. It's perfect.

In some cases, we will be staying with members of the church or the clergy. Those are their own unique opportunities. That means there will be fellowship time after Juice is in bed, as long as I remember to leave time each night for blogging about the day!

In Bassett, Nebraska, we get another unique, amazing opportunity. Father Goeke is putting us up in an historic hotel right across the street from the church. They are very proud of it as many in the town fought to save it. We'll be having dinner there with some folks from the church, and even a private communion service. We are so excited!

In South Dakota, we will be staying with an intentional community on the Rosebud Reservation. That is the only stop that will be two days in length. Our host, Kieran, has so much to show us and teach us there. I can't wait to learn more about the work and goals of the community, as well as what is happening with our sisters and brothers on the reservations.

So many people are unaware of the poverty and suffering in these places. I was shocked when someone here said to me, “Well, at least they are happy!" It was her turn to be shocked when I shared with her the real state of the people there. This information needs to be shared. I hope the photos and stories we post of our time at Rosebud and Pine Ridge will help to illuminate the real conditions faced by the residents of these places.

SK: How did you find churches where you'll stay?

Erika: I started by mapping out a straight trip from here to our final destination. Then, using the U.S. Episcopal website, I found churches on or near our route spaced three to four hours apart. I looked at each, reading about their history and looking for pictures of the churches. I chose mostly small, old churches that reminded me of our own St. Ann's.

I kept in mind the final project, the book, Through the Red Doors, and how these places would complement each other on the page. In some cases, we had to go off our course to hit some of the more interesting ones. Our original trip of 39 hours turned into 54, but every single extra minute is worth it. We have a rich lineup on this Episcopalian odyssey.

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