Not Embarrassed to Share About Death

Scott Simon with his mother – via Today news

In the last couple of days several people have sent me links to NPR host Scott Simon’s tweet feed about the death of his mother. Like me he has not been embarrassed to share openly the pain, the tears and the heartache of these final days. I read and cried through this poignant article of how his mother became the collective mother to 1.2 million people who followed Scott on twitter, finding great comfort in what he shared. Many of his followers I suspect remembered their own moments of loss and grief as they read what he wrote. Some I am sure will be better able to cope with death in the future as a result.

I too have been amazed by the comfort others find in my journey. It makes me realize how important it is to share these types of events. We are all vulnerable people, so afraid of death, embarrassed to share how deeply it scars us, afraid to admit the ache it leaves inside us. We go to great lengths to hide from it and to hide it from the world. Yet it is one of the few certainties of life.

Thank you for continuing to share this journey with me. I still have no idea how long my mother’s final journey will take. I would like it to be quick, I don’t want to see her suffer, but I also realize it is in God’s hands. Thank you for your prayers and support and comments – they are much appreciated.

Comfort in the Midst of Waiting

Mum with service dog

I continue to sit by my mother’s bedside. Thank you for your prayers and supportiveness. Particularly appreciate this poem sent to me by Heather Jephcott

You Lord are my place of safety
Since finding you I need no other
Having experienced your shelter
I knew I need look no further

You keep me secure
locked in Your vastness

You are my maker, creator of all
the one whose giant hands
hold this entire magnificent universe

You not only made me
but gave to me a place of safety
a place where I am secure,
locked in this sanctuary
a place of peace, hope, love and joy
you not only hold the keys
but are this place

You save me from the onslaught of the dark
helping me to cope with times of sadness, difficulty
You are the rock on which I build my life
no shifting sand that varies with the days
but solid, safe, secure

You save me from the worst in me
keeping my brokenness for your use
within your kingdom
to remould it into something of beauty
where you are king and I am not alone

You fill me with hope
calmly expressing that you are
all the security I need now and
throughout the eternal ages
this hope glows bright now
becoming stronger, more dazzling
each passing day

 

Mustard Seed village UP-date

On July 27th a dedicated team demonstrated the ultimate support for Mustard Seed Village by installing the final support beams on our first building.

Thanks to the extreme generosity of Greg and Nathan Abell, Martin Bayley, Brad Glenn, Dennis and Andrew Todd, and many others who have been praying and have helped in advising and procuring supplies, all the remaining beams were raised today by 4:30 p.m. Our team of volunteers were exhausted.

It takes a team to raise a village.Tom exclaimed, “Thanks be to God for the miracle of having all the beams up!!!”

We are looking forward to seeing most of you at the annual Celtic Retreat, Saturday August 10 during which we’ll have a luncheon dedicating of the erection of our first facility in the Mustard Seed Village.

Preparing the beamsThere are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer your construction talents to the project! Next up, we need to get the roof on as soon as possible!  If you have carpentry skills and are interested, please contact us and let us know.

Thank you for your continued prayer as the Mustard Seed Village dream unfolds. You can join us in God-inspired future through prayer, volunteering as we continue construction on the village, and through contributing financially. If you haven’t already seen it, please check out  Graham Kerr’s invitation to support construction of the village.

Check out more photos in this Facebook album

It is Hard to Watch Your Mother Die

Cutting the birthday cake

Cutting the birthday cake

I am sitting here in the hospital beside my Mother’s bed watching her life slowly ebb away.  It is only a month since our joyous celebration of her 90th birthday. Just after we left she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and her condition has declined rapidly.

It is the hardest but in some ways the most important thing I have ever done. I am now staying at the hospital sleeping on a couch beside her bed. Sometimes I read to her or recite her favourite poems. Sometimes I hug her and assure her of my love. She is still conscious and I thank God for these precious last days with her.

It hard to watch your mother die,

To watch the spark that gave me life

Grow dim.

To see the much loved face

Grow gaunt and lose its smile.

To hold the hands

That once held me in love

And try to comfort through the tears.

It is hard to watch a mother die,

To watch this last hard journey

Grow harder every day.

To know I will not share

Tomorrow’s moments of delight

Until I too prepare to cross the veil,

And on the other side

Find once more that loving smile.

Whatever Is Lovely by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Today’s post is by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year and the forthcoming memoir Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis. Kimberlee is a regular contributor on prayer to this blog.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

—Philippians 2:5

“Spiritual transformation in Christ moves toward the total interchange of our ideas and images for his.”

—Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart

Flowers_of_the_field

As I drive home across the Ballard Bridge, a new billboard advert looms large in my vision. Most of the time, this billboard’s message is tame. Annoying, but nothing that jars or upsets me.

Today, though, my eyes are bombarded with the image of a beautiful woman in a sexually suggestive position and the enormous letters of a lascivious message, both of which are trying to tell me that if I buy this particular product, I’ll be a sex goddess like the model on the billboard.

I look away quickly as I realize what I’ve seen. I feel assaulted, this image calling to mind all manner of others I’ve seen over the years, all of them clamoring for my attention. These are not the thoughts I want to occupy my mind.

As my year of prayer unfolds, I want more and more to be more like Jesus, to have the mind of Christ. In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard insists that our thoughts, when captured for Christ and fed on the images and ideas that Jesus himself fed on, will transform our entire lives. But he warns that there are special dangers that we must guard against. One of the gravest is the images we admit to our minds.

Images are powerful things. They make ideas concrete and accessible. In the case of this billboard, the image elevates the idea of sexiness to an ultimate good. And because images work on us at the level of emotion, they are not under rational control.

I have long known that what I see affects me deeply. It is why I long ago stopped watching TV news and later stopped watching TV altogether. What I am learning now is that I am not alone. Images affect everyone on a level that is beyond rational control, working deep within us to shape our ideas about reality—and so shape who we are.

This, I think, is why St. Paul exhorts the Philippians to focus their thoughts on good and true and beautiful things:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil 4:8)

Willard emphasizes that heeding St. Paul’s instructions “is a fundamental and indispensable part of our spiritual formation in Christ.” We become who we are largely because of the thoughts that fill our minds. And the thoughts that fill our minds in turn depend largely on the images we feed them.

This is why the billboard near the Ballard Bridge bugs me so much. And the thought that my six-year-old daughter and all three of my sons are seeing it, too, makes me sick to my stomach. Young as they are, that image is shaping them even more than it’s shaping me. It makes me angry.

But one thing my year of prayer is teaching me is that everything can be a call to prayer. So I take the sickness I feel in my stomach and I take my anger, and I let them direct my mind to Jesus.

Over the weeks since that billboard appeared, it has become a call to prayer. As much as possible, I studiously avoid even glancing at it as I drive across the bridge. Sometimes I forget it’s there, and I see it before I remember to look away. Either way, whether I see it or manage to avoid it imprinting on my brain again, I pray.

Mostly what I pray is the Jesus Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Have mercy on us, sinners all. Have mercy on the men who see that billboard and are aroused by it. Have mercy on the women who see it and are ashamed of their own bodies because of it. Have mercy on the company who thought it would be a good idea to put up this billboard.

I can’t always control the images I see, but I can control how I consciously respond to them. I can let images both beautiful and base call me to prayer—beautiful images to praise and awe of our even more beautiful God; base images to intercession for our fallen world that so desperately needs Him to save us from ourselves.

If you want to join me in getting rid of the garbage that clutters our imaginations, why not begin by eliminating from your life one magazine, TV show, or website that regularly serves up ugliness, unkindness, or smut? It’s always a good idea to replace a bad habit or thought with a good one, so make a plan: what will you do during the times that you usually engage with these images you’re eliminating? You could read or memorize Scripture, pore over a favorite art book, or listen to a favorite piece of music—something that puts images of beauty, truth, nobility, and excellence into your mind instead.

The Art of Pilgrimage part 3 by Mary De Jong

In this final installment of our Pilgrim in Residence Series with Mary DeJong, Mary literally brings it home by painting a powerful picture of what it’s like to return from a journey and the impression our journeys have not only on our souls, but also on our communities and ultimately the world. Read Mary’s first post in this series here and her second post here.

If you’ve enjoyed her posts, you can learn more about her book or joining her on retreat or pilgrimage here and follow her blog here

homeboots

“IT IS A STRANGE THING TO COME HOME.
WHILE YET ON THE JOURNEY, YOU CANNOT AT ALL REALIZE HOW STRANGE IT WILL BE.”

-SELMA LAGERLOG (1858-1940)

COMING HOME: A STRANGE RETURN

It is in the going out that we discover what is really going on, both in our inner-heart’s landscape and in our physical home places. The journey away from home brings with it fresh perspectives and abilities to see our normal lives with a new sense of discovery and sensitivity. We return with a posture of being newly awakened — attuned to and aware of the Spirit all around us.

The daily challenge is to carry over the quality of the journey into everyday life. You want to integrate the new ways of being and thinking into your life as you move into the final stage of pilgrimage: reincorporation, or bringing back the boon.The intentional space created by a pilgrimage not only leaves a mark on our lives, but elbows out new permanent places in our spirit. So, while home once again, the hearth is not how we left it.  And it will stay in a state of strangeness until we are able to assimilate our lessons and experiences into stories of transformation and actions of justice.

Pilgrims return home with wisdom and the driving responsibility to share the truth gleaned from the profound experiences of the pilgrimage. The story that we bring back from our journeys is the boon.There is a universal code of sorts, which requires the pilgrim to “share whatever wisdom you’ve been blessed with on your journey with those who are about to set out on their own journey” (Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage).

The challenge, and bitter truth, of coming home from a pilgrimage is that we soon learn that what is a pearl to us is mere pennies to others, especially if our epiphanies are conveyed as nothing more than novel curios. But how can we even begin to describe the depths to which our soul has traveled?  Ultimately, it is our changed life that must tell the story of our journey; no picture slide show or souvenir will scratch the surface of the truth found at the sacred center.

Because of this journey to the sacred center, and the perils experienced to get there, you are transformed. And because you have changed, so will your home. You have encountered the Holy-experienced God in a fresh new way, and as a result of your sacrifice and struggle, you will not relate to your world or those in it as you did before.

Your challenge is to now live into the new edges of your life, inhabiting the unfamiliar spaces created by pushing through the trails of your inner-soul landscape. These are the places where dynamic opportunities lay for you to share your wisdom and bring back the boon of your journey. You must create new ways of relating to your home – to those within it and surrounding it, which are imbued with the meaning of your journey.

In Joseph Campbell’s popular book of essays, Myths to Live By, he described something pertinent to our theme of sacred journeys: “The ultimate air of the quest if one is to return, must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.” This parallels the belief of the ancient wisdom teachers that the ultimate answer to the sorrows of the world is the boon of increased self-knowledge.

Interestingly enough, this responsibility resonates with Frederick Buechner’s definition of vocation as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It seems clear that the great value of a pilgrimage is to return with a knowledge of self that will enable one to engage the world’s needs in an authentic and passionate way.

Upon re-crossing the threshold home, the mystical methods of pilgrimage begin to unravel. The freedom from systems and modes begins to dissipate as sacred time quickly returns to linear time, and sacred space is replaced with vistas of cityscapes. It is all one can do to refrain from hiking the pack right back onto the shoulders and heading straight back out the door. It becomes evidently clear that there is real work involved in unpacking the gifts of the journey and relating them to our homescapes.

globe

For years I have been challenged with the notion that ultimately, the pilgrimage calls us to return home and live forward on behalf of something other and greater than ourselves.  This idea that the road out actually causes us to be beholden to something back home is something that I’ve been personally working on for years. For our lives to truly reincorporate and reflect the stories of our journeys there must be effects behind and beyond our front doors; if there isn’t, the travels and travails of the road quickly get reduced to petty ramblings and narcissistic knock abouts.

Ultimately, the greatest influence we can have on ourselves, our families, and the world around us is to live out the effects of our sacred journey on behalf of Other and the Future.  I acknowledge that this could appear trite and formulaic; however, the notion’s simplicity allows for a focus of energy around a transformed state.

I believe that when Campbell talks about a “wisdom and power to serve others” on account of our wayfaring, he is getting at a fundamental aspect of the gift of pilgrimage. We go out on these personal, intimate soul-adventures to connect to God in fresh, inspired ways.  But if these encounters aren’t having a greater result on the world around us, they are worthless. I believe that by applying our gained wisdom on behalf of Other and the Future, we are re-gifting our communities and the earth with our God-given blessings encountered on the road.

Living on behalf of Other and the Future is a scalable metaphor; that is, it may refer to simply anyone or anything other than yourself and decisions that impact the future. In broader, and more challenging terms, “Other and the Future” is a way of embracing all of life, especially those that are without voice and marginalized in society, and intentionally orienting lifestyle decisions that will have a positive outcome on our earth and future generations.

As a result, our personal sacred journey is global in both scope and impact, and we are invited to transformative micro-practices that overhaul how we view our homes and home environments. Our return home requires us to leave the door open to the world just beyond its threshold, maintaining a posture of looking out for opportunities to give of our blessings.

boybeach

SET UP WAYMARKS FOR YOURSELF,
MAKE YOURSELF GUIDEPOSTS:
CONSIDER WELL THE HIGHWAY,
THE ROAD BY WHICH YOU WENT.
-JEREMIAH 31:21
 

We long for and are called to a journey that will not only renew and refresh us, but also transform the very lives of those around us. The gifts of the pilgrim’s path are ultimately not to be pocketed away and subsequently displayed like a well-traveled trinket or souvenir. The ancient call to go on pilgrimage is ultimately an archetypal instigator to recover one’s sense of self through God so that, upon returning home, the boon of the journey can be translated for the benefit of the greater good, for the common good, for all and for our future. Other and the Future become touchstones for our journey, tangible waymarkers to which we can apply our transformed lives.

Through the ancient practice of pilgrimage, we are challenged to live forward into deeper understanding of ourselves and our God-given talents and gifts. Because the inner-journey has righted priorities and passions, we embrace the gift of relationships in our lives — loving and respecting those who have been given to us to nurture. We answer the call to apply our gained wisdom to justice, knowing that however we employ our calling that it must somehow serve the Other – those surrounding us in need of a voice and advocacy. We respond to the realities of our planet with care, concern and conviction, knowing that if we don’t, our children’s earth-home will be one less hospitable and fecund. We leave home on our journey only to come back with a greater sense of it, with a greater impression of how to serve it, and an inspired way of how to live in it. We live forward with a renewed sense of knowing home.

__________________________________________________

GO FURTHER…

Questions to contemplate about your journey…

How will home be different after I return?
How will I be different after my return?
To whom am I beholden and how can I live on behalf of these relationships
to revitalize my personal homescape?

Questions to reflect on in the comments below…

What were the waymarkers that truly transformed you?
In what ways can you continue living forward out of these places of transformation?

– See more at: http://asacredjourney.net/2013/07/mary-dejong-3/#sthash.PbKnaUHT.dpuf

The Art of Pilgrimage part 2 by Mary De Jong

In Mary DeJong’s second Pilgrim in Residence post, she shares stories from Iona, as well as more wisdom for the journey. Read my introduction of Mary and her first post in this series here. Mary’s final Pilgrim in Residence post will be published on tomorrow.

IonaAbbey

Bertil went to Iona from Sweden with a pack lighter than a feather and a prayer he couldn’t even speak. A retired vicar of the Church of Sweden, this thin, long-legged man was as genteel as tea, and diligently spoke in a bass of broken English with long spells of Swedish woven in. But for years this sonorous voice had been silenced from song, a gift that had been dutifully practiced and trained in choirs for over fifty years. Bertil had not been able to sing for quite some time, a strange phenomenon without a cure, according to consulted doctors and specialists. With a mute melody, Bertil decided he must go to Iona for Pentecost, prayerfully hoping that Spirit would blow through his caged chorus, renewing both his voice and life-wearied soul.

I met Bertil at the Iona Hostel, and we attended services together at the Iona Abbey. I sat and sang along with Bertil at the Iona Community’s weekly service for healing, a precious and powerful space dedicated to restorative prayer requests for loved ones all over the world. We laid hands on one another and repetitiously offered prayers on behalf of our mutual needs and for those surrounding us. Following this moving service, I commented on Bertil’s lovely singing voice, speculating that he must be in choirs and performing groups. He looked at me with wet eyes and told me of his story…and his healing, as fresh and new as the tears on his face.

THE JOURNEY TO IONA

People come from all over the world to Iona, Scotland – and have for almost 1500 years – to experience God in new and life-giving ways. Whether a person is carrying a question, a prayer, or a need for healing and refreshment, this Sacred Isle seems to release something of its prayer-soaked soil to its pilgrims. I met a woman from Germany who came to be soothed and sanctified and was surprised to discover that Iona’s plant life was the deliverer; she wandered the beaches and heathered hills discovering flora and fauna that, quite literally, appeared to be calling out to her. She reverently gathered these plants and for a week drank teas and made poultices, and felt closer to God than ever before, on account of this good earth.Another fellow pilgrim was returning to Scotland to reconcile a tragic accident that took the life of her father while visiting this land over thirty years ago. The stories of why they come are as varied as the pilgrims that carry them, but come they do, ardent to leave their homes and arrive on holy ground.

ionabench

Pilgrims come to pray here, believing that the accompanying candle, lit in the Abbey, will hasten the petition. They come to this place searching for a change that doesn’t seem to exist at home. They come for a reason that appears abundant in Iona’s surrounding sea, but lacking from their own tap. And there is something to this ancient belief that going somewhere else will bring you closer to the Divine. History heralds the holy events and lives that were lived out in places like Iona; to be able to come to these places with our own feet and walk the same paths as these great saints truly does come with a sense of mystical import. While the arrival to these sacred sites is absolutely necessary in the pilgrimage process, it is the getting there that highlights and underscores the gifts that are received at the destination.

It comes down to this: Solvitur ambulando. It is solved by walking. It is the tension that causes us to awaken to ourselves in the first place that subsequently requires an exit, a leaving of all that we have come to know and trust as our homelands. Here, in these comfortable places, it is a challenge to see God, the world and our lives with clarity; furthermore, it is difficult to be awakened to the needs of our communities when we are dictated by clocks and cubicles, consultations and concerns. However, when we choose to respond to the Longing and the Call to leave the familiar behind in search of answers found in far-away places, we are deploying our soul to interact and intervene with the surrounding environment, the result of which is an energizing and heightened awareness of ourselves, of Others and the Spirit amidst it all.  

“IT COMES DOWN TO THIS: SOLVITUR AMBULANDO. IT IS SOLVED BY WALKING.”

This kind of invited alertness requires us to depart, to leave and to walk, to become intimate with the path upon which we tread, and others with whom we share it. The path that leads to the pilgrimage destination is critical for this process; for along this road, with no vehicular/insular walls to tune us out, we must tune in to the measured mode that invites contact, conversation and company. The structures we use to define who we are in ordinary life become irrelevant. Pilgrim space has no regard for class, race, or social/economic standing. There are no more random run-ins with strangers; there are no more lucky or misfortunate moments. In sacred travel, every experience is uncanny; every contact attests to some greater plan. No encounter is without meaning. There are signs everywhere, if only we learn how to read them. Peculiar people turn into much-needed messengers.  The natural world speaks candidly and profoundly. The road has been transformed into grace; it is now a place where souls are nourished and renewed.

pathriver1

Phil Cousineau, author and pilgrim, says that,

“IF THE JOURNEY YOU HAVE CHOSEN IS INDEED A PILGRIMAGE, A SOULFUL JOURNEY, IT WILL BE RIGOROUS.  ANCIENT WISDOM SUGGESTS IF YOU AREN’T TREMBLING AS YOU APPROACH THE SACRED, IT ISN’T THE REAL THING.  THE SACRED, IN ITS VARIOUS GUISES AS HOLY GROUND, ART, OR KNOWLEDGE, EVOKES EMOTION AND COMMOTION.” 

-PHIL COUSINEAU, THE ART OF PILGRIMAGE

I remember sitting on the tarmac in Philadelphia awaiting our Atlantic departure to Glasgow in 2009. On pilgrimage to Iona, why should I have been surprised that we were grounded for FOUR hours while the winds and rains of a Hurricane Bill whipped around us, lightning lighting up the jet-black night outside our plane? What really brought the rigor close to heart was upon collecting our backpacks in Glasgow; is was evidently clear that our luggage was unable to be loaded on our flight during the storm, and also due to the extreme conditions, abandoned, not even covered against the torrential rains. My pack containing all my teaching materials for Iona was completely SOAKED, much of it rendered useless. All I could do was laugh knowing that indeed, I was on the road of a true pilgrimage!

The inevitable chaos that surrounds one’s journey to the place of their heart’s longing is set in place to distract and possibly even derail the most hope-filled plans. When one leaves on a pilgrimage, they are making an absolute commitment to a sojourn towards self-knowledge, which in Christian mystical tradition, is the understanding that knowledge of self and knowledge of God are one. And there are energies at play within and around us that are desperate to ensure that divine connection doesn’t occur. This happens in the guise of uncertainties and doubts, details unwinding, or appearances that even the weather is commiserating against you!

 The purpose of the pilgrimage is to ultimately make life more meaningful. It is regarded as the universal quest for the self. Though the form of the path changes, one element remains the same: renewal of the soul. The essence of the sacred way is “tracing a sacred route of tests and trials, ordeals and obstacles, to arrive at a holy place and attempt to fathom the secrets of its power” (P.Cousineau). Once again, the act of listening is emphasized here. The way of the pilgrim is one of an inner-quiet, an inner ear attuned to the subtle sounds of the Spirit while on the sacred road.

“THE PURPOSE OF THE PILGRIMAGE IS TO ULTIMATELY MAKE LIFE MORE MEANINGFUL. 
IT IS REGARDED AS THE UNIVERSAL QUEST FOR THE SELF.”

Ultimately, we choose the way of the pilgrim’s path to get somewhere. We aren’t electing to be sojourners forever. We prefer the pilgrimage because of its archetypal stages: Longing, Arrival, and eventually, returning Home. The Arrival stage is especially poignant as this is the location and/or place toward our heart has been bent the whole while. It is the place that strengthens our resolve when the going gets rough, or the road seems too dark and dismal. We cast our eyes upward and outward towards this place for which we have longed and to which we have attributed purpose and answered prayers. The required posture on the Pilgrim’s Path has prepared you for your arrival; you have practiced the necessary way of seeing and listening to the surrounding greater community of things. So it is that when you arrive to your sacred destination, you are equipped to receive that which is for you.

ARRIVING WITH INTENTION:
PREPARATION, SIMPLICITY, + OFFERING

It is hard for me to say exactly what the Arrival stage looks like, as everyone absolutely has his or her own emotional experience and physical response to the day when you finally get there. I have witnessed people respond with tears of rapture and remorse, giddiness and gaiety, and silence and solemnity.  But common themes are woven through the lives that have risked much to respond to the longing and leave for a place beyond the hearth and home:  preparationsimplicity and offering are always present with a well prepared pilgrim at the point of arrival.

ladyreading

When I talk about preparation, I am looking beyond travel itineraries and packing lists. A pilgrim will immerse themselves in the poetry and prose of a place and/or region in an attempt to soak up the Spirit’s presence and inspiration in a culture. Intentional prayers and blessings will cover the time spent packing, journeying and will highlight the preceding minutes as one approaches the sacred site. This kind of preparation hallmarks the pilgrimage mode of travel as starkly contrary to the typical trip or vacation.

An easy way to practice simplicity is in how you pack. By packing light, you allow for the stranger to show up and supply a need. This posture positions you as open and ready to receive the Divine, guised as an Englishman at the Iona Hostel quite possibly! (Indeed, it has happened to me!)  It is also important to engage a spirit of simple expectations. Don’t expect WiFi, a Starbucks or cuisine de la USA at your destination; in fact, if it is available, spin on your heel and discover where the locals get their mid-afternoon cup of wake-up, and indulge in regional cooking. To a degree, it is a little like the “when in Rome…” way of thinking. Don’t make it complicated. Engage the culture of the ways around you; it will be apart of your soul’s salve and a reason for coming.

Lastly, be prepared to offer something. As you approach your sacred site and your heart leaps with the proximity of answered prayers, posture yourself in such a way so to give something back to this place. A pilgrim decidedly journeys not to pick up souvenirs and trinkets along the way, but to look for circumstances to see others’ souls, and give out smiles and kindnesses for nothing in return. I challenge my retreat participants to bring along a physical item on their journey that represents their reason(s) for making the pilgrimage. The idea is that this item can be placed on the altar, or given to someone at the place of arrival as means of engaging the offering. For we know that it is only when we give that we truly receive.

Your pilgrimage began long ago as the yearning to go relentlessly etched itself onto your heart. Because of, and out of, your preparation you have expectantly traveled toward this wisdom site with hands upheld to the One who is the origin of all things, including both questions…and answers.

Your posture is submissive and your soul is surrendered.  May what has been silenced in you for far too long, begin to sing!

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GO FURTHER…
How have you made meaning out of trials faced on your journey? or
Have you traveled to Iona? How did you prepare and practice simplicity? Were you able to offer something back?
Share your experiences in the comments below.

– See more at: http://asacredjourney.net/2013/07/mary-dejong-2/#sthash.ieNvUYwI.dpuf