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Camino in a wheelchair: Two best friends on a 500-mile spiritual pilgrimage
Tony Rossi | Apr 10, 2018
And what they learned about living life with a “Sabbath mentality”
Due to a progressive neuromuscular disease, Justin Skeesuck has lost the use of his arms and legs, and is now confined to a wheelchair. But that didn’t stop him from embarking on a pilgrimage with the help of his lifelong best friend Patrick Gray. And this wasn’t just any pilgrimage. It was the 500-mile Camino de Santiago – or Way of St. James – in the mountains of northern Spain.
During an interview on “Christopher Closeup” about their Christopher Award-winning book I’ll Push You, Patrick and Justin recalled the physical struggles they endured on their journey, but also the ways that God made Himself known to them along the way.
While watching a Rick Steves travel show about the Camino on PBS, Justin heard a voice inside him telling him, “You need to do this.” The book’s title comes from Patrick’s unhesitating response to Justin’s suggestion they go together: “I’ll push you.”
It might sound surprising that someone with diminished physical abilities could have such an adventurous spirit, but Justin credits a number of key people and factors with keeping him going: Christ, as the “cornerstone” of his life; the love of his wife Kirstin, who married him years ago knowing what was going to eventually happen to him; the love of his children, Jaden, Noah, and Lauren; and his friendship with Patrick, who has “lifted me up a lot and sometimes had to help me pull my head out of my butt.”