A pilgrimage is a journey to a shrine or sacred place taken with the expectation of spiritual growth or insight.
My first pilgrimage was in college. My college chaplain led a small group of students on a visit to two tiny churches off the Blue Ridge Parkway: St. Mary's and Holy Trinity. These church's had been adorned with fresco paintings (think Michelangelo) by Ben Long, an artist who had studied fresco painting under master Pietro Annigoni in Florence, Italy. Long had donated his gifts to these two dying churches, creating walls that seemed to come to life. The life revealed in his paintings revitalized both churches, and people from all over came to see them.
I remember that journey vividly. I remember being skeptical that looking at wall art would have some effect on me. I remember walking away knowing that I'd been changed.
At the youth lock-in back in September, our youth reminded me of how important it is to mark places along one's spiritual journey. The opportunities to dig deeper, to wrestle with angels, is as much a part of growing spirituality as church attendance. In Naked Spirituality, Brian McLaren opens with a story about being on a church retreat and kneeling beside a trout stream where he heard the voice of his own heart. I am convinced that it is in these times of retreat and pilgrimage that we are offered the gift of re-creation in its deepest sense.
One of the things that I hope we can do in the future is open more possibilities for our community to experience these times of pilgrimage. I am especially keen on offering such opportunities to our youth. The youth of St. Margaret's want to go on a pilgrimage. They are working hard to raise funds for the trip because they want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to go. I am proud of their determination and their willingness to work to realize their dream. I am hoping that the adults in the congregation will support their efforts and that you will help me find ways to not only support our Youth Pilgrimage, but also develop a parish pilgrimage! Sometimes it only takes our willingness to step away from the everyday for us to experience a part of ourselves we didn't even know was there.