∴ A drifter and his cross ∴

NILAND, CA. — Ray doesn’t go by a last name, lives wherever he happens to be and considers himself a literalist who was called by God to carry a cross, just like Jesus Christ did.

In February 1989 he started doing what God had asked of him, Ray said, so he walked from California to Virginia carrying a wooden cross he made and encouraging people to follow God. This was just natural to do since by then God had helped him get off methamphetamines, alcohol and “off my wheelchair,” he said.

After Virginia, Ray decided to continue traveling.

He travels light by tying a small backpack filled with water and clothes to the end of the cross, while his reading glasses hang from his shirt. More than two decades have passed since  he picked up his cross, he said. He's now carrying his fourth cross, and he does still with no particular direction in mind.

One Friday in March of 2012 Ray, 56, was walking with the cross on his shoulder south on Highway 111 “until God tells me to turn around.”

The sun was in the center of the zenith. It was almost noon.

"I've seen 29 states and also the best and the worst of the country," he said. People have spat on him, shot him and even tried to nail him to his cross. But he’s also seen “42 souls coming to the Lord in one day,” he said.

Ray, who has visited the Valley before, expects to eventually return after he walks away in April. But he doesn’t know when that will happen.

He also expects to die in his 70s or perhaps his 80s, Ray said, and until then “or until God gives me something else,” he’ll keep walking with a cross on his shoulder and a Bible in his hand.