Our 17 pilgrims (12 youth and 5 adult mentors) are making choices this week about what to bring on our 10 days in England and France. Of course there are 'practical' kinds of choices... one MUST bring toothpaste, deodorant, and extra underwear! Each will make decisions about clothes: how to be comfortable, how to look right walking about and in cathedrals ... and how to dress knowing we are in a foreign place, representing our Church and nation.
But maybe more important are the resources that might help us make the most of our time. The Parish will provide a Book of Common Prayer and a journal. Those will help us do our work of meditation, prayers and documenting our moments when God reveals something surprising. Some days the journal might be a simple, direct record of where we went and what we did. Other times something will catch us off guard, maybe scaring us or shocking us. Some days it will be a sunrise or sunset, or something someone said, or just a sweet, sweet moment of unmerited love that blows us away. We might even draw a picture or a quick note and just a smiley faced emoticon. Regardless of what we write or draw, the journal will help us remember a year or ten years later something that moved our heart or mind.
And yet, those are not the most important things to bring. Most critical to our pilgrimage will be a spirit of "openness" - an open mind, open eyes and ears, and an open heart. Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice -- a tool -- designed to help us experience God in some new ways. That requires a life free of some level of distraction, and an open spirit to notice and ponder what you see and hear and what takes your heart and mind in new directions.
When we are honest, we admit we spend most of our time "full up" - full of activity, "to do" lists, or when we are NOT consumed -- we fill our mind with distractions or entertainment. A spiritual pilgrimage is a "trip to Heaven" or at least moving into the liminal space where Heaven and earth meet. It is where we can experience the goodness of God's creation, including the goodness of God's people, and ultimately to experience God's own Self. To see God, one must be open. That's what we hope everyone brings. Anything else can be found along the way. Be open and expect to be surprised. God will be with us. God might meet us face to face.
Keep open... Bob+
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.