I came across Shawn Smucker’s blog earlier this year by accident. I wasn’t looking for it. But from the first sentence I read, I was hooked. I read a fair amount, but it didn’t take me long to realise that Shawn’s writing was different. There was something special about it, something which really resonated with me. His blog is now a daily read for me, and continually inspires me and encourages me.
When I discovered Shawn was writing a book based on his family’s adventure, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I won’t give away the story as it’s a beautiful read, but I will say that there isn’t a person I know who wouldn’t benefit from reading it.
Shawn was kind enough, amid his busy schedule, to answer a few questions about the book and his writing process. Like all his other work, it’s worth taking to time to read these responses and let them sink in.
What pushed you to write this book?
Writing this book was a huge part of how I debriefed from our 10,000-mile adventure. When you dream for years about doing something, and then you do it, and it’s over, re-entering normal life can be a difficult transition. After returning, some days the trip felt like it had never even happened. I felt it was important for me to dwell on that experience of traveling, at least for some time, you know? To be mindful of it and make sure I didn’t simply slide back into normal life. Plus, when we got back, a local news reporter asked how the trip had changed me. I knew it had, but I couldn’t express it in words. Writing this book was in some ways my attempt to explore how the trip had changed me.
What was the hardest thing about writing it?
This was actually one of the easiest books I’ve written. It was so much fun to go back through the photos and the stories and the places and the people we met. I guess the hardest part was reliving the time we lost our brakes. I still get sick to my stomach over that.
Do you consider the process an act of worship to God?
That’s a great question. Sure, I do think it’s worship. Perhaps one of the most powerful, beautiful ways we have of worshiping God is by entering into the creative process with a mindfulness of his existence and presence. Not that everything we do has to be overtly Christian or fit into that label, but I like your question. I like seeing it as worship.
Do you think there are parallels between the journey you guys went on and life in general?
Every journey has its parallels to life, because life itself is a journey. Things like perseverance and being open to change, holding your plans loosely yet being prepared, a willingness to place yourself in challenging situations – these are all important in life as well as in an adventure.
If you could tell people one thing you learned from the trip. what would it be?
Be adventurous! Take risks! Do the exciting things you’ve always wanted to do even if they make you super uncomfortable or you feel ill-equipped. Don’t wait. Do them now. There is never a comfortable time to leave on an adventure, because if you get to the place where you’ve planned everything out, there will be no adventure left to partake in.
You may have guessed my response from what I said earlier, but this book is stunning. It’s not just a story of one specific journey; it’s a story of life’s journey, a tale which will resonate with so many because of its honesty, integrity and familiarity.
Shawn writes in a way which means you feel like you are sitting alongside him. I often feel it’s as if the two of us are talking late at night by a fire somewhere. His sentences are put together carefully, with every word laboured over.
But ultimately, what I think makes this book – and his writing as a whole – so powerful is that God is using Shawn to speak to so many. If you don’t believe me, try reading his blogs for a week, or read this book. Within these pages is a rich story. It’s a story of adventure, fear, hope and bravery. In a sense, it’s a small-scale version of the story we are all on.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so challenging yet beautiful. Because every new adventure Shawn and his family take is like the small steps we all take on a daily basis. Scary, yet thrilling. Unsure yet confident. Unknown, yet somehow known.
This book drips beauty. I can’t recommend it enough.