Trail Angels

Author: Amy Ostwald

Luke 19

 29 As Jesus approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.

Last week my daughter, Seren, embarked on a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada along the mountainous and often very remote Pacific Crest Trail. Many people have asked me how I am feeling about this— am I concerned about her safety? Well yes, I am…

There is something that helps, though. 

There are “trail angels” along the way. These are people who live near the trail and offer food, rides, showers and sometimes even beds to hikers in need. Hikers speak of “trail magic”– when acts of goodwill or remarkable moments are experienced on the trail. Last week, Seren wrote about her first experience with trail magic: “Yesterday, after hiking 22 miles (and passing the hundred-mile mark), we arrived at a spring near a road crossing. There, some trail angels were setting up a barbecue for PCT hikers, complete with veggie burgers, chips, cold drinks, desserts, and lawn chairs. I was amazed (thank you Dan and Bob!) We sat around for a few hours, eating and chatting, until the sun started to set.”

I imagine that Jesus and his followers experienced some trail magic along Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. Hospitality was offered, tables set, feet washed; there was a donkey given and cloaks were offered. 

In my own faith journey, I find that sometimes I am a traveler, and sometimes I am the local at the side of the road. At times I stand in awe as I witness friends follow the Way of Jesus into difficult territory; at other times, I am able to get out onto the street myself. In either circumstance, I pray that I can participate in the divine trail magic. A Palm Sunday parade will be perfect practice!  


O God, may we find ways to be trail angels for others. And when we take risks in our own lives of faith, may we see the trail angels who wait for us beside the road. AMEN

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