Pastor Wes Mauch took a road less traveled through Valley Center, carrying a 38-pound wooden cross, a well-worn Bible and message all the way to Rancho Santa Fe.
Mauch, 66, walked along the side of Cole Grade Road, wooden cross on his shoulder and all, “doing what Jesus asked me to do,” he said while vehicular traffic whizzed by as if he were invisible.
When will Mauch stop his Don Quixote-like quest? “When Jesus comes,” he said.
A retired pastor living at Beaumont, Mauch said he had walked through 505 communities and cities accounting for 11,810 miles from June 2010 to this fine day, headed toward Valley Center Road.
Mauch started his daily mission at 10 a.m. He planned to meet with his wife driving a 1993 Buick Century at 5 p.m. They planned to stay overnight at an Escondido motel before he embarked on his walk with the cross across that hidden valley along Del Dios Highway and to the promised land that some call the Ranch, Paseo Delicias to deliver the word to the world of the one percent.
From Rancho Santa Fe, pastor, wife and Buick Century were headed next stop to Ventura for a weekend walk up the coast to Malibu. Mauch estimated he walks with the heavy wood cross 200 miles a month. He’s ahead of that pace this month with the VC to RSF segment putting him at just over 160 miles.
Making an impression
Valley Center made an impression of sorts for the bearded, grey-haired man whose articulate speech belied the visual picture he presented on the side of the road.
“It’s a beautiful place,” he said, “but it could be brighter. There is a darkness here because of the casinos. I felt something around the Indian reservations about how they were treated, a bitterness.”
In Mauch’s case, the journey and the word appear to be one. He sees good and bad as he performs the ultimate in physical exercise while spreading the word to all who want to head. People sometimes ask what he’s doing. Sometimes, they’re quite rude.
“We don’t get concerned about anything else, about what people thin,” Mauch said. “Sometimes, people break down and cry, get down on their knees and pray, gang members even. One thousand, one hundred and forty men, women and children have received Jesus, found Jesus in their hearts because of us. ”
Mauch offers a takeaway to those who express interest although he generally keeps on the move. He passes out copies of a 72-page pamphlet called “Living Water: The Gospel of John with notes.” He writes his name and stamps a mailing address inside the copy.
Medium is the message
In this case, apologies to the iconoclastic Marshall McLuhan, the medium truly is the message, for the cross is the thing, heavy and larger than life as it rests on Mauch’s strong shoulders.
“People always look at the cross as stationary,” Mauch said, “not mobile. People need to see the cross because it is significant. It represents His voice, his vision. You don’t have the crucifixion, you don’t have the resurrection without the cross.”
And with that, Mauch, who described himself as “I guess you could say, pentecostal,” quoted several verses from Isaiah 5:3, beginning with “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard…”
Followed by a short prayer, pat on the shoulder, and resumption of one man’s road to glory and Rancho Santa Fe.