One of the young adult novels on the bookshelf here is The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple. The story, set in 1299, tells of two betrothed youths who are sent by their parish priest on the pilgrimage from England to the shrine of St. James in Santiago, Spain.
The priest tells them that the proper way to go on a pilgrimage is "to take only the spirit and those minimal necessities that keep body and soul together." No, they may not take paints to capture the sights. No, they may not take a fishing net for sport.
"Pilgrimage is painful," Father Gregory reminds the village as Eleanor and Thomas prepare to set out. It is not a pleasure trip.
As I have recently written, I am on a journey. At Katrina's request, I am reading A Purpose Driven Life, one chapter a day, for the next several weeks. Small wonder that thoughts of being on a pilgrimage are lodged in the corners of my mind. Is it coincidence that I keep stumbling upon references to pilgrimages? This morning it was this quote by Richard Niebuhr: "Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys."
We (the personal we: Warren and I) are at one of those points in Life where outside matters - professional and community - are weighing heavily on us. We, but especially Warren, have been carrying those bundles around on our shoulders a lot lately. Quiet, heavy concerns are draped like cobwebs in our home.
I haven't read my daily chapter yet today. Like clearing away the day's candle-ends to better focus on my daily reading, I need to bring down at least some of those cobwebs before opening the book. But I have been restless, reading some, writing some, trying to express on paper what I am thinking and feeling in my heart.
While I putter through my thoughts, this one keeps popping up in my mind: I need to get outside of my comfort level. (Make that a "we" if I drag along Warren.) I am not at all sure what that means, or may mean, in my life, let alone in our life.
I don't know if it is one of the cobwebs, or is instead a broom with which to bring them down.
This weekend I read one of Frederick Buechner's beautiful memoirs, Telling Secrets. In it, he wrote of the AA saying, "let go and let God." It is one I say often, especially at night when I am awake late into the dark hours. As Buechner reflected, "Let go of the dark which you wrap yourself in like a straitjacket, and let in the light…Go where your best prayers take you. Unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy. Breathe deep of the glad air and live one day at a time."
Go where your best prayers take you…Unclench the fists of your spirit…Breathe deep of the glad air.