Mar 7 2023
Episode 28 - Tyson Motsenbocker
Tyson Motsenbocker is an author and musician who, in addition to having the best last name to say out loud, wrote a beautiful book about his 40-day pilgrimage up the coast of California. Tyson’s luminous and beloved mom passed away, and only a few short days after the funeral, he walked out his front door and across the state. Motsenbocker walked hundreds of miles as he started to process his grief and his disappointment with a God who felt suddenly unsafe. Maybe you can identify with a world that looks abruptly and irrevocably different. What on earth is a person to do? I think you’ll enjoy hearing Tyson’s stories of how we walk these roads, what we learn, and how we return home and bring some of the road with us.
After years on the road, Tyson Motsenbocker returned home to the impending death of his 57-year-old hero and mother. He begged God to heal her, but she died anyway. With the death of his mother followed the death of the childhood version of his faith. Shortly before her death, however, Tyson became intrigued by the complicated legacy of Father Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan monk and canonized saint who dedicated his life to the idea that tragedy and suffering are portals to renewal. Father Serra was a complicated figure – one who built Missions up and down the California coast, spreading Christianity and care, as well as colonizing the native population and stripping them of their traditions and culture.
Tyson discovered Serra's "El Camino Real," a 600-mile pilgrimage route between Tijuana and San Francisco that had been largely forgotten for more than 200 years. Two days after his mother's memorial service, Tyson set out on a pilgrimage of sorts, intending to walk from San Diego to San Francisco along the El Camino, following in the footsteps of the saint. Tyson's journey takes him down smog-choked highways, across fog-laden beaches, past multi-million-dollar coastal estates, and through towering redwood forests. And as he walks, Tyson also wrestles with his faith, questioning the pat answers and easy prayers he once readily accepted, trying to understand how hope and tragedy can all be wrapped up in the same God. The people he meets along the way challenge his understanding of the meaning of security, of what it means to live a meaningful life, and of the legacies we all leave behind.
Where the Waves Turn Back is both part journal and part spiritual memoir and, ultimately, a thrilling and deeply satisfying read that asks questions that will resonate with readers seeking meaning in an utterly disorienting age.
Find him online at TysonMotsenbocker.com and on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.
Visit KimberlyStuart.com/podcast for more from this episode.