These days the Episcopal Church is all about pilgrimage—long ones, short ones, and one soon to be experienced at our Diocesan annual convention as “A Call to Pilgrimage.”
Earlier this year, Rev. Amber announced for All Saints’ A Pilgrimage to the Great Cathedrals of England (April-May 2020). More than a dozen parishioners are signed up for the trip, and we have invited the congregation of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas, to join us on the journey.
To help prepare our hearts and broaden the experience for all members, we embarked in late summer on A Year of Pilgrimage, making periodic journeys to local sacred spaces beyond our parish boundaries.
We have opened a window, stepped out of our doors, and let fresh air waft back in. In his inspiring journal writings, Thomas Merton encourages us [within the church] to guard against spiritual suffocation by not staying within our own structures. He writes, “The fresh air we need is the air of the Holy Spirit breathing where He pleases, which means that the windows must be open and we must expect Him to come from any direction.”*
And the Spirit has been coming from all sorts of directions during our first three pilgrimages…
At the Carmel Mission in August, 16 All Saints’ pilgrims embraced a greater reverence for Mary as the “God bearer” while experiencing the Catholic Church’s Feast of the Assumption. Mission docent Dick Gorman provided us an orientation to Catholic thought from Scripture and tradition regarding this Feast Day and Mary’s significance for us with regard to our own resurrection in Christ. Fresh air.
In September on A Contemplative Walk in Liminal Spaces at Point Lobos, another 18 of our pilgrims were hosted by All Saints’ member and Lobos docent Stella Rabaut, who shared her sense of vocation as a voice for the sacredness to be found there in the abundance of God’s created beauty. On the trail we paused to reflect on the words of poet David Whyte, who writes that, “Beauty is the harvest of presence.” Fresh air.
And earlier this month, by sharing Mass with the Monks at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, 23 All Saints’ pilgrims experienced a paradigm shift in quiet and community, simplicity and grandeur. Fresh air.
As Merton describes, the air of the Spirit keeps us breathing: Freshness. Liberty. Spontaneity. Broadness. Healthiness. Setting our intention on pilgrimage has brought each of these to us… along with greater hearts of GRATITUDE.
For our onward journey, may we always remember: The window must be open… and we must expect [the Spirit] to come from any direction. Amen.
*From a journal entry titled, “St. Benedict’s Sanity” by Thomas Merton (October 27, 1957).
To help savor the inspiration, here are a few comments from our pilgrimage to the New Camaldoli Hermitage:
“The big surprise for me, was the power of SILENCE. From the warmth of our traveling companionship to the very genuine welcome from the brothers, I was very open and stunned to receive the message they are obviously living. The environment exudes PEACE.” — Jan Olofson
“The simplicity and beauty at Camaldoli was spiritually experienced at Mass, as well as at lunch overlooking the expansive calm Pacific Ocean; I felt grace and peace there. Also the slowness/pace of their liturgy added a powerful effect to the meaning of the words spoken and prayed.” — Julie Bryan
“It was a pleasure to worship in their beautiful chapel and to be accepted at their altar for communion—they have a great openness and welcoming manner. I was impressed too by their dedication to prayer and action wherever they can be of use, as well as their embrace of a life of poverty. I hope to return someday!” — Jim Shillinglaw