Trembling on the Pilgrimage of Life

     Phil Cousineau writes, “If your journey is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous.  Ancient Wisdom suggests that 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.” After returning from our pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, I am realizing that the journey of faith, is really a pilgrimage.  All of those steps that I took this summer, just emphasize a little bit more the how to do it.  
     Rigorous can certainly describe my walk on many regular days here at home as I expect it can describe yours.  It seems that the older that I get the more rigorous it becomes.  Sometimes, the rigor is more emotional than physical but it is still rigorous! 
     The below picture was taken in Padron, Spain while walking the camino pilgrimage this summer. It was a time of trembling for me.  It came as a surprise.  Bernie and I got off course on the fifth day of our time with all of the pilgrims.  Yes, we did get lost and it was very hot.  We however had heard of a spot where James had actually preached and we wanted to see it.  It was away from our prescribed path but there was a strong inner pull for both of us.  Because of being lost and asking many people for directions, we put way more steps in our day than we had planned.  We had been told that our destination was right behind the Convento do Carme.  You can’t miss the convent when coming into the town, but this mountain where James had spent time was not right behind it.  We walked down the convent steps and around on a back street where there was a woman helping anyone who came by.  Fortunately, she spoke English and directed us down the street a little farther where we climbed 115 steps to the Monte Santiaguino.  It was very late in the day but a pull was still calling to both of us.  We climbed these rugged, ancient steps that were lined with the Stations of the Cross.  As I approached the top, my insides were doing flips and turns.  I could sense the tears welling up in my eyes as well as a trembling deep within.  I was approaching ground on which a man who had known Jesus in the flesh was trying to live out his call.  We sat on that mountain together in silence, imagining and praying.  I felt changed somehow.  I knew that I was being touched by the holy.
These trembling times always come as a surprise.  This community of Christ Church Cathedral, is surrounded by the sacred in many guises.  The opportunity to tremble is ever present!  We can't however make it happen.  What we can do is what people of faith on pilgrimage do every day:

  • ·        continue our search for God by worshiping with the community

  • ·         be faithful to personal spiritual practices

  • ·         wrestle with our questions

  • ·         ask for support and guidance

  • ·          keep going even when we are tired by putting one foot in front of the other.

     Then to our surprise, in the blink of an eye, we tremble.
     I look forward to being with you as we study, wrestle and support one another in so many ways in this new year.  I would love to hear about your moments of trembling if you would like to share.  Just as I struggle for words to describe my pilgrimage experience on the camino, I know it is hard to put this journey of faith into words.  We can try however as we exchange our stories with another.

Dr Elizabeth Conrad, Minister of Christian Formation


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