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Walking Home
Walking Home. Photo: Supplied

Book review: Walking Home

Over five years ago Journey reported on a group of friends who were walking 2000 kilometres around Queensland to raise awareness about the 2000 languages into which the Bible has not been translated. Andrew Sav, one of those walkers, has since written about his experiences on that trek for his new book Walking Home. Neil Thorpe reviews.

This book should come with a warning: don’t try this at home! Or at least on a nearby highway.

Andrew Sav’s account of his 2010 walk with two friends to raise awareness on issues around the Bible’s translation for global audiences should not be seen as an inspired blueprint for walking adventures.

It is more a cautionary tale of the physical, emotional and mental toll on the trio as the crushing weariness of the “daily plod”—Sav’s words not mine—unfolds over 80 days.

Walking can be meditative and prayer-like, something that generations of pilgrims have discovered as they prayerfully walked their sacred way. There will be some readers who have completed the famous Camino—a pilgrimage walk across the north of Spain and Portugal—but its distance of 800 kilometres pales beside this walk from Cairns to Stanthorpe (Sav’s childhood home) via the Bruce Highway and parts of the Burnett and New England highways.

Why 2000 kilometres? This relates, in round figures, to the number of human languages in existence that do not have one word of the Bible translated for them.

Experienced walkers and bushwalkers will know that long distance walking comes down to three basic preoccupations—‘feet’, ‘food’ and ‘fatigue’—and we see them here replete on almost every page.

The three ‘f’s’ noted above, as well as various encounters along the way, provide the book’s essential narrative. There’s a blokey amusing style that focusses mainly on the relationships between the three walkers and their various encounters with highway vehicles, less-than-salubrious reptiles, assorted animals and road kill, and the occasional good-looking female. This may not be a style to suit all readers.

Sav’s photos and illustrations reveal a perceptive artist of some flair and humour. They add to the reader’s knowledge and enjoyment of the walk.

It is difficult to identify a specific audience for this book; experienced walkers will be speaking advice out loud as they turn each page. People looking for information on bible translation will certainly get some useful information.

Others, looking to the insights of the inner journey and a deepened appreciation of God will also benefit to some degree. In appealing to a variety of interests, the book does not satisfyingly bridge these perspectives.

This is a very personal account with the highs and lows of Sav’s particular walk featuring strongly. Along the way, he shares some real gems of encouragement such as the concept of life’s “middle mile”.

Quoting Vance Havner, Sav writes, “… the tedious middle mile when life has settled down to regular routine and monotony … if you can sing along the middle mile, you’ve learnt one of life’s most difficult lessons.”

The book is also about a spiritual journey. Sav relates the gradual formation of a powerful presentation on Bible translation which develops across many small meetings in the country towns that they pass through.

There are occasions for reflection on God as the walkers encounter the kindness of others and appreciate how they have been kept safe in the midst of dangerous events.

And, yes! The three walkers do make their way to the end of the journey. The last line sums up the experience—something interested readers will need to anticipate as they tackle this book.

Neil Thorpe

Walking Home: 2000 km in 80 days
Author: Andrew Sav
Publisher: L&R Morgan
To purchase visit the Walking Home website

Editor’s note: Sadly, Andrew Sav died in early October this year. For more information on the Walking Home campaign, including tributes to Andrew and how to donate to the recruitment of Bible translators, visit the Walking Home website.   

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