1.a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.
1.travel or wander like a pilgrim.
I recently had the opportunity to travel with a group of friends to the East Coast. All of us needed this trip. Whether we knew it or not, we needed to travel all this way to have our eyes opened by the extreme and endless love of God for each one of us, individually, in our own unique pains, relationships and desires.
The trip was jam-packed with sightseeing, volunteering, catching late night flights, early subway transits and making our way to as many shrines and cathedrals as possible in a one week span. This trip was no vacation, it was a pilgrimage.
As google states above, a pilgrim is someone who wanders, or journeys, often for religious reasons. In every literal sense, we were pilgrims, as we got lost in downtown New York, looking for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. We were pilgrims as we sought the meaning behind every encounter, every passer-by, every missed on-ramp. We looked on with eyes of wonder and it was amazing…
What happens when you go somewhere you’ve never been, to see something you’ve never seen before? Well I guess it all depends… The future is a place I’ve never been, with places, people and emotions that I have yet to know. To be honest, FEAR is often what happens when I’m met with this kind of unknown.
But this trip has taught me something important, among a great many other things, that my life as a Christian is a pilgrimage, a sacred journey, and I need to maintain that sense of wonder, purpose and conviction in everything I do, everything I’m faced with, every step of wandering I take.
We recently found out that we are pregnant with another sweet little Edman! As many of you would know, or can imagine, the exciting news is wrought with anxiety, joy, hope, grief for Clark (whose presence we miss constantly), and fear — that we may be faced with more loss, or more pain. These are simply realities and natural responses to loss and life afterwards. I know that there will be many times throughout this pregnancy and throughout my life in general where my tendency will be fear, or a stoic struggle to truly trust or enjoy the moment. But this is not what I experienced on our pilgrimage! As I shared earlier, wonder and God’s love was my experience.
I’m comforted by the (too often quoted) words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.” And even if I get lost sometimes, caught up in fear or hopelessness, if I seek to maintain the mentality of a humble-wanderer, in need of God’s help, I’m sure He will set me right.
If you look back on fellow-pilgrims, folks who sought God radically and lived their life around that, you’ll realize that their paths were never easy. They were (and are) met with many trials and suffering. But still, like the Christians being fed to the lions, they sing praises to God. The Saints I learned about on this trip overcame all kinds of trials, but they all maintained that untouchable joy. I know that we are not guaranteed an easy path, and no, what we’ve endured doesn’t save us from the next cross, that’s just this life. I am convinced of one thing, I want to be a pilgrim. I want to see life for what it is and never be afraid, or at least always know that God is with me and my family. It’s amazing how wonder, while wandering, can lead to such great changes in faith, strength and hope.
This life is a sacred place, where God chooses to meet mankind and beckon us home. He does this in so many ways, one of my favorite ways being through the eyes of a child! And I thank God for the gift of this sweet child growing inside of me. Just like our days with Clark, I’m seeking to take each day as the blessing it is, each tomorrow as an opportunity to love and grow in love. May this inspire you as well on your journey, to take a step forward in trust, hope or at least wonder at the crazy pilgrimage God has called you on, and the love He has for you!