Day One of the Pilgrimage

After months of planning and preparation, it is finally here. The pilgrimage begins this evening in Glasgow as the group gathers for dinner, then tomorrow, we are off for 4 days on the Isle of Iona, that sacred “thin” place where St. Columba landed and from which Christianity spread through Scotland and the north of England.

Pilgrimage is not a trip–it is not sightseeing. It is a way to be in a different space and place, to deliberately and slowly walk in the presence of God and those Christians who walked the path before us. It is also a way to deliberately be in the company of others, journeying together, forming a community for a time.

We begin on Iona, then go to Melrose (in the borders of Scotland and England), on to Holy Island (Lindisfarne), and finally to Durham. Each of these places is significant in the lives of St. Columba, St. Aidan, and St. Cuthbert–those great Celtic and Anglo-Saxon saints whose lives, whose faith, influenced Christianity in the British Isles and beyond.

I share with you two pilgrim prayers and ask you to pray them with us over the next 10 days.

A Sacred Journey
when you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing.

Make sure, before you go,
To bless your going forth
To free your heart of the ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you towards
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
(John O’Donohue)

God be with us in every valley
Jesus, be with us on every hill,
Holy Spirit, be with us
On every stream
Every cliff’s edge,
Every green pasture,
Every moor and meadow
In the crest of the waves of the sea.
Every time we rest,
And every time we wake up,
God be with us
Every step we take.

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