The beautiful mystery of Pilgrimage
August 8, 2022
As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. (A.C. Benson)
Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey
My dear St. Martin’s,
It was wonderful to see so many of you on Sunday at worship. Thanks to all who welcomed me back to church. I have a newfound appreciation for Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales following the completion of my pilgrimage.
I returned from my pilgrimage through England last Monday after two wonderful, prayerful, God-centered weeks. I was blessed to be one of the “companion pilgrims” to the Choir of Christ Church, Christiana Hundred (DE) during their residency at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The choir sang for two services of Holy Eucharist, one of which was the Feast of St. James, as well as daily Evensong. The music was steeped in Anglican tradition, and the liturgies all came from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer from the Church of England. I tend to prefer Rite I worship, so this felt like an extra special treat.
While on my trip, God did what God does: God appeared in the most unexpected, delightful, curious ways. One of the most poignant moments of my trip occurred while I was on a date with myself through London. After a guided tour of St. Paul’s in the morning, I ventured off by myself for lunch, a ride on the Tube (mind the gap!), and time in one of my favorite places in the world, Westminster Abbey.
When I entered Westminster Abbey, I fell to my knees and was so overcome with emotion that I began to weep. While I was initially quite embarrassed, I remembered something a dear friend once told me: Tears are a clear presence of the Holy Spirit. So, I began to embrace the emotions. The air in Westminster Abbey is saturated with prayers of thanksgivings, intercessions, and wonderings. Westminster is a hallowed place for me, and I was grateful to further saturate the air with the offering of my own prayers.
I could go on for days about the journey. The biggest takeaway I received from the trip that I would like to share with you, my Beloved St. Martin’s, is this: Our lives are a pilgrimage. Beginning with baptism, we begin our journeys as pilgrims, yearning to seek out the divine. Twists and turns along the way will often place us at the feet of God, and we spend time there to rest, rejuvenate, and prepare for the next leg of our journey. St. Martin’s, we are on a unique pilgrimage right now in this time of transition. So, friends, I invite you to let the Spirit into your prayers, your souls, and your pilgrimage(s). If you happen to find yourself overcome with emotion in a sacred encounter on your pilgrimage, let me know. I would love to hear about it.
High altar at Westminster Abbey