Holy pilgrimage is on my mind. In Journey to Adulthood (J2A) Class, we are beginning to prepare for pilgrimage in summer 2023. But before the youth pilgrimage, Mother Amanda and I are leading an adult pilgrimage to Greece. I am also helping St. Martin’s Episcopal Church to design and prepare for their youth Pilgrimage to Italy this summer.
Due mostly to the pandemic, it has been a long while since I’ve planned or led a pilgrimage. I find my heart yearning for the particular kind of travel that is a holy pilgrimage. In the J2A curriculum, David Crean, writes:
Pilgrimage is not a vacation nor a sightseeing tour nor a mission trip. Pilgrimage is all of that and more – it is a time we set aside to journey in the footsteps of the faithful Christians who have gone before us. By mindfully walking in their footsteps, we put ourselves in touch with our tradition, our roots, our God. Pilgrimage is a time for seeking and finding God in new ways.
It brings me great joy to spend time planning for pilgrimage—reading, researching, and learning about the sites we will experience when we visit sacred places. I especially love seeing the faces of our youth when they encounter God in a magnificent cathedral or on a quiet, wooded path that the continuum of saints walked on in years past. I also find pilgrimage a little bit daunting, but ultimately exhilarating. This kind of travel reinvigorates my love of God, my love of God’s created world, and my love for the people from the St. Peter’s part of God’s flock.
Phil Cousineau says, in his book The Art of Pilgrimage:
Being on pilgrimage is to practice what pilgrims, poets and perceptive travelers have done for centuries, to see with the “eyes of the heart,” and transform the inevitable ordeals of your journey into opportunities to learn something about yourself and the wide world around you.
Pilgrimage is designed to move you to walk your own path to the holy ground of your heart’s desire — to God.
In order to help us to fund the pilgrimage, the youth will offer an Advent Fair to provide Advent items (and Christmas gifts) to help you prepare your hearts and homes for Advent. I think Advent is a bit like a pilgrimage —it is a journey of preparation and longing, a time to seek and find God in new ways. Please visit the Advent Fair on Sunday mornings, November 21, 28, and December 5, to support our youth and to assist in readying yourselves for the coming of the Christ child.
Lyn Holt, Director of Youth Ministry