I listened when I was in grammar school. I listened when they described the European participants of the Thanksgiving Feast. I knew who the pilgrims were. They wore dark solemn clothing and the men had tall black hats and shoes with buckles. And I KNEW I would never be one of them.
Suddenly I find myself on the verge of being a pilgrim – not with hat and buckles – but making a pilgrimage – a sacred journey. Nancy and I will leave on Monday to journey to Israel & Jordan in what is a whirlwind trip of 7 days in-country and 2 traveling. We are traveling with fellow clergy. I found myself think about this the other day and realizing it was not a trip and definitely not a vacation. It is educational but not course work. It may be fun but is not entertainment. It is a sacred journey to places whose names and stories I know. Places that are touch stones to my faith and the sacred story of the Gospels. And there is the possibility it visiting and seeing will in some way or other change me, or deepen me, or touch me.
The Plymouth Pilgrims were also on a pilgrimage – one that led to living in a wilderness in order to have the freedom to practice their religious life as they wished. Their journey changed their lives also. We go off not know what will happen or how God will be present to us in new ways in the strangers with who we will be traveling.
We look forward to heading up to Jerusalem like countless pilgrims over many centuries. We look forward to being there, to imagining what it might have been like all those centuries ago – and trying to bring together the time then and the times now and what it might mean, for me – for others – for humankind.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.