A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about the self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.
I thought of the trip Leigh and I took recently, to see the Northern Lights off the coast of Norway above the Arctic Circle, as a vacation, a ‘bucket list’ item, a time to let go of regular routines. Well, it was all of that; however, my very wise Spiritual Director said to me before I left, ‘Look at this as a Pilgrimage’. So, I let God in. Sometimes I don’t do that very well; I go forward with my own agenda. (Practice what you preach, huh?)
So how do you have a ‘pilgrimage experience’ on a cruise boat with 2600 other people? That’s God’s challenge, not mine. I just had to be open to it. So, when I least expected it, God was present and made it known to me in definitive ways.
The first time was when our room steward, John from India, asked me if I was Roman Catholic as we exited the room one day. I explained that he was close, but I was Episcopalian (like Anglicans). It was my crosses that I wear that got his attention. One is a Celtic cross and the other is my Daughters of the King cross. I always had them on. God gave John and I a segue into conversation other than his job duties; it also allowed me to ask him about his home and his travels away from it. This is the hospitality that St. Benedict instructs us to impart, one that shows interest, kindness, and love for others; the kind of hospitality that sees Christ in everyone.
The second time God intervened and used me on the ship was with a stranger traveling by herself that we befriended. We often saw each other during the course of the twelve-day cruise. One day, we were both in line to get a latte, when she said to me, ‘Would you pray for my mother today, it’s the anniversary of her death.” Of course, I would and include Karen also. I knew she and her mom had traveled extensively together and now Karen was trying to go places they couldn’t go as her Mom gradually lost that ability. I prayed for Karen and Sue, strength for Karen to go forward with her life, and peace for Sue in a heavenly kingdom that only she and other saints know. It brought me closer in thought to my own mom and Dad who I no longer see. God blessed me in a special way with that request for prayer from a new friend.
The next time was as Leigh and I visited a 12th Century monastery in the countryside of Norway. It was a beautiful setting complete with a pond and a graceful swan! The monastery is intact but owned by the Norwegian Government and used for a variety of events. The tour included a ‘concert’ by a local woman and her husband. She had a professional voice that was truly heightened by the age-old acoustics of the monastery. I felt the ‘thinness’ of this special place from the beginning, but when our singer sang ‘Ave Maria’, tears flowed for me. I knew God’s Holy Presence was encompassing all of us there and that sometimes, it is overwhelming. All I could think was, ‘Praise be to God’.
Then there were the Northern Lights…as if God were using a paintbrush in clear view of us! Some were narrow strokes, some broad. When you thought it might be over, here came another ‘round’ of strokes. Science can explain it, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that a Supreme Being is in charge.
God protected me and mine through some stormy weather, gave me absolute messages, and made sure that our time is always a pilgrimage, “where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about the self, others, nature, or a higher good.”
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13:2
By now, you’ve grown numb to the frequent calls for ‘thoughts and prayers’ that politicians call out following the latest mass shooting. After this past weekend’s events in El Paso and Dayton, it seems the discourse may, finally, be shifting. Calls of thoughts and prayers were drowned out by demands to ‘do something.’ This shouldn’t make us forget that prayer is still an important response to evil acts.
On Wednesday night, about 20 of us gathered in the sanctuary for a special prayer service following the weekend’s events. While we read the seemingly endless remembrance of mass gun violence in this country over the past few years, it was overwhelming. But we continued praying.
Today, we pray, but tomorrow we act. A number of members of our community are organizing letter writing campaigns, marches to the capitol, and other ways to make our voices heard.
Today we pray, knowing that God hears us, and tomorrow we act, knowing that God counts on us to do his work in the world.
Lucy (not real names) lost her husband a year ago. She thought she was doing well and then suddenly things got worse! She’s sadder than she was, angry at her husband for not watching his health; and really tired of hearing that she should have ‘moved on by now’.
And then there’s Jody who is grieving the death of his son. His wife worries that he has not really dealt with his grief because he doesn’t cry or talk about his feelings.
We all will have loss and grief in our lifetime. It’s a universal situation. However, there is no ‘normal’ or timeline. It is an individual reaction to losing someone you loved. I remember and repeat often what one of my favorite mentors and priest told me, “God never said you wouldn’t have pain; He did say that he would always be with you.”
Please feel free to join our next grief support meeting at Morgan House on Sunday, August 18, at 2:00, or see me with questions. Everyone is welcome.
With Love and Grace, Linda+
Did you know that the ONLY age requirement for being an acolyte is that you actually have an AGE? No matter what your age or ability, there is a place for you to serve. Acolytes have a long and distinguished history in the Christian Church, mentioned as a minor order as early as a letter of Pope Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch in 252. We just graduated one of our largest acolyte classes in May. We need to have some new people trained to serve.
Acolytes include torchbearers, crucifers who carry the Cross, and gospelers who carry the Gospel book. Some acolytes assist with setting the table, washing the priest’s hands before communion, and ringing the Sanctus bells during the Eucharist.
Our needs for acolytes at Saint Peter’s on Sunday mornings are these:
7:30 am – 1 acolyte
9:00 am – 1 or 2 acolytes
11:00 am – 3 or 4 acolytes
Please consider taking on this important service in the life of the church. Training will be provided. Contact Rev. Peggy for more information.