Ok, I’m going to slowly make my way back into posting land, recovering from a traveler’s bug and all. We made it to Spain as a group, and hit a dusty, hot trail all together… which was a miracle in and of itself. If you know this tribe at all, we find our joy in a multiplicity of directions, and that we somehow communed as one on the road, in a somewhat (somewhat) straight line for almost two weeks was really a new wondrous thing. …None of us felt compelled to take cameras, and I suppose that was to spare the women from feeling caught walking in afternoon spain dry heat–certainly not at our prettiest.
I know all of us felt we were participating in something symbolic that had more to do with relationship and lifetime pilgrimage–getting to know new people–traveling without knowing when it would end or if we would get to the end. Which was understandably hard for some of us… Some of us were forced to rest for the first time in our ministry ‘careers’, one of the Jones kids was going through a real rite of passage, even little but strong Tamar at 15 months walked about a mile of dusty rocky monastic desert terrain. But somehow here were 16 people walking a trail–it was so strange! Derek Amy Andrew Debbie Samuel Elizabeth Abigail Hannah Tamar Shannon Linnea Erika Jessica Theresa Robbie Grace … It wasn’t about monuments or even encounters with others–of course we met a few special ones from all the nations along the way–but about our togetherness, stretching and pulling like a rubberband, not being afraid to snap a little bit. Not all of us are California hikers, darnit. For Derek and I it was learning how to handle the ropes of holding group dynamics together. We are not community builders or strong on shepherdy qualities, but this year he is integrated some of those parts of himself in us so that we can parent–us wacky mystic art parents–others into their spiritual growth and callings.
I think pilgrimage is a good idea–it doesn’t have to be a real road toward someone’s venerated bones–but is a lifestyle choice and can actually be a real journey to a place. I think my personal transforming pilgrimage happened last year when I left for Scotland on my own before Derek and I were married. I had had a lifelong dream of going to Scotland, and so I drove all over the whole country, even stopping to indulge my childhood fascination with the Loch Ness monster by taking pictures of the famous Loch. I’m still having trouble unpacking what I experienced, but it felt like I traveled to my origins and discovered old family treasure… I cried a lot.
At least on this Spanish trail you get into a rhythm of moving forward, being eager for the next but also knowing the limits of your bodies and of the sunshine you become as eager for the resting part. We all discovered the joys of true siesta. But the only people in history who have seem to really grasped pilgrimage as a lifestyle intuitively were the Celts and Jews. Moving towards something ineffable, eternal. It’s easy to over-romanticize the idea–just as the Celts are becoming slightly over-romanticized–but He is definitely releasing the Pilgrimage paradigm into Protestant parts of the church as a new way of the church breaking forth into real relationship and journey into unknown.