I am a creature of habit. My daily routines—when to rise, when and what to eat, when to work, when to exercise—are as predictable as the plot of a network crime drama. For me, then, one of the big challenges of preparing for pilgrimage is in steeling myself for change. How will I feel without my comforting oatmeal and coffee each morning, the daily crossword puzzle, my afternoon run? I am trying to embrace the idea of ‘letting go and letting God,’ and praying that I am up to the challenge.
I am also struggling to define my role on this journey. Of course, I am there as a ‘chaperone’ of sorts, a ‘responsible adult’ who supposedly will have the experience and judgment to help our youth navigate the uncharted waters of foreign travel and group responsibility (note the emphasis on supposedly). And then, of course, I and my fellow mentors are also pilgrims. We can and should immerse ourselves in the spiritual aspects of the journey—not just for our own sake but also as models for our charges. At the same time, though, we must be constantly aware that our primary responsibility is to shepherd our youth and to facilitate their spiritual growth. Again, I pray for the wisdom and sensitivity to find the appropriate balance.
One thing I am not concerned about is the comportment of our youth. Over the years I have watched them develop from squirmy, standoffish, sullen, and selfish tweens to confident, controlled, conscientious, and compassionate young adults. I have been so impressed by the maturity they have shown in our classes, in our service projects, and in their participation in the life of our parish. Particularly at this time when American values are being questioned more and more on the world scene, I am proud to be traveling with these young people who can show the world the best of our country.
Looking forward to new adventures with friends... Jim
We are young people on a spiritual journey that began five years ago. We are members of Old Donation Episcopal Church in Virginia Beach. These ten days in England, France, and Belgium are a culmination of our study of the Christian faith. We are on a pilgrimage of exploration and discernment as we approach the sacrament of Confirmation in the Fall.