Webster’s dictionary says that it is a journey to a sacred place and that’s the definition that I’m sticking with. It’s that journey of a thousand steps that takes you one step at a time to a place that renews you, that brings you life.
I’m on such a pilgrimage this weekend. My Aunt Cynthia has turned 80 (trust me, it is the new 50) and we have come from the north and the south to the west coast to make toasts and share hugs.
Pilgrimage is about intention. There is the decision to make the trip. Then there is the negotiation about schedules and joining together of all the moving pieces will need to fit into place. There is the notion of the travel and the “how” piece of transportation. There is the journey (by planes, trains and automobiles these days, rather than by foot).
[There was here a grief place for me for this particular pilgrimage. It wasn’t possible for Linda and the boys to make the trip. In my coming, I was leaving them behind –it turns out both the boys were sick, so it wouldn’t have been much a holiday for them. But for this pilgrimage, there is always a looking back ~ celebrating the time here and missing the ones who couldn’t be here with us.]
This pilgrimage for me is to be with my sisters, my aunt and uncle and my dear, precious cousins. How I love them all. Because grace truly abounds, we are celebrating Aunt Cynthia in a humongous beach house just south of Santa Barbara. Winter is giving way to warmer air and the sun is shining. The waves (oh how this central Illinois gal loves the ocean) are amazing. The tides change, the waves move us. When I sit on the deck in the sun and stop to take it all in…the “ahhh” comes and you just know.
Balance. Story. Re-tellings of stories that hold your entire life. Music. Harmony. Laughter. Tears. Pictures. GREAT food. An occasional margarita. Plaid as far as the eye can see J.
The truth is this time of pilgrimage is a precious gift. And this time has been a journey to a sacred place. I have had the gift of journeying to Jerusalem and to Fenway, back to Mattoon and out to Tybee. And this time, this pilgrimage has been such a refreshing, recharging, re-membering time for me.
The next time someone suggests a pilgrimage to you ~ please, please, please say “yes.”
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.