TORRINGTON – “I trust the Lord for my every need.”
That’s Joe Shortino’s philosophy for getting what he needs to get by. A lot of people say the same thing, or at least something similar – but Shortino is living it. He’s got no money in his pockets, no traveler’s checks, credit cards nor debit cards on his person.
What he does have is a wooden cross, built out of pressure-treated 4x4s. It’s not a small burden, around 12-feet long with three-foot arms. The cross has been signed by people he’s met along the way, and nearly every inch of it is covered in sprawling signatures, some of them faded due to the weather, some fresh, some bearing a military rank, and some bearing scripture. Some even had jersey numbers.
The cross is fitted with a caster wheel to help him carry it, but it’s his burden – and he’s carried that burden, Shortino says, for more than 12,000 miles in the past six and a half years.
He bore his cross into Torrington on Thursday evening, with not a dime on his person.
“When it’s time, people hand me the money,” he said. “Yesterday in Torrington, I had just come into town. I had no money. I saw Arby’s. The Lord said ‘Go to Arby’s.’ I said ‘Lord, I don’t have any money.’ He said ‘Go to Arby’s.’ So I went to Arby’s. Before I got the cross tied up, someone handed me the money.
“When it’s time to sleep last night, I was in Torrington. I had no place to say. I contacted a place to find out where the cheapest one was. I found that out, then I wound up going to a Bible study. Someone handed me the money I needed for my room.”
Shortino started his quest all the miles and years ago when the Lord spoke directly to him. He said he heard a voice and listened to it.
“The Lord told me, in an audible voice like I’m speaking to you, he said, ‘I’m going to build a cross and you’re going to carry it,’” Shortino said. “I looked around and said ‘OK, I’m hearing voices,’ but I heard it. I bought the materials, and a retired pastor named Nicodemus built the cross.
“The Lord, I walked for three months to figure out what the Lord wanted me to do. I didn’t know. After three months I knew. I got rid of everything I owned and headed to Texas. I’ve been walking ever since.”
He walks for a variety of reasons, to go along with following what he believes is God’s will. He said he prays for the towns – and their leaders, churches, and police departments – as he moves along his path, which is dictated by the divine.
“I gave up a six-figure income to do this,” he said. “We need God to bless the country, and without our veterans we wouldn’t have the freedom we have. I walk and I pray for the community, the city hall, the police department – and then when the Lord tells me to I move on to the next town.”
He was bound for Scottsbluff after he left Torrington. From there, he will disassemble the cross, pack it into a duffle and visit his wife in California. After that, he’ll put it back together and start walking again.
But his destination? The good Lord only knows.
“The Lord will tell me where to go,” he said. “If the Lord says I want you to be in Washington, D.C., by the end of the week, I’m there.
“I’m literally a soldier for the Lord, like a special forces soldier. When he says to go, I go. I’m always ready.”