In one week, a group of pilgrims will be departing from Redeemer on their way to south eastern Ireland. 12 members of parish youth and five adults, myself included, will spend a week exploring a new place, learning about ourselves and one another, and wondering at the presence of God in the world. Because our trip is geared towards recent confirmands, we are focusing on the baptismal covenant: each day will place emphasis on a different piece of the covenant as we discover how to live out our faith in a new context.
Learning how to lean in to wonder has been part of our preparation. Our pilgrims haven’t received extensive information about where we’re headed once we arrive, or details about what we’ll be doing. Instead, we’re invited to be open to experiences as they come, tuning ourselves to the present rather than focused on the future. What will we notice simply by paying attention? I’m looking forward to finding out.
But it doesn’t take international travel to cultivate a sense of wonder, or to make a pilgrimage. Wonder is around us, all the time. It’s true that getting out of routines and into new spaces can help us remember to wonder, but that can be as simple as visiting a part of the city you’ve never been to before, checking out a new path in the park, or setting an intention to notice the world around you every day. It’s the same question our group of pilgrims will be asking: What will you notice simply by paying attention?
The earliest Christian pilgrims made their way to and through Jerusalem, to follow the footsteps of Christ and “recreate in their imagination the scenes of Christ’s ministry and passion.” Imagination was required: most of the city that Jesus had known was destroyed by 70 AD by Titus – its incredible library was part of its draw to second century Christians (The Age of Pilgrimage, Jonathan Sumption, 123). Here in Baltimore today, we, too, can imagine how Christ would walk through our city. Where would Jesus go? Who would he seek out? How would he treat the people he met?
With that in mind, what might our local pilgrimage look like? How can we, cultivating our own closeness to Christ, attempting to walk in his footsteps, follow his path here in our own city? As our group of pilgrims embark on our travels next week, try making a local pilgrimage of your own.
In the weeks to come, I invite your prayers for our group, as we prepare and as we travel. If you practice intercessory prayer by name, you can find our names below. Or you can hold our group fondly in your heart – however you pray, we will be glad for it! For everyone praying for us here in Baltimore, at the bottom of this post is further information about what our group will be up to (though no more than our pilgrims have received).
Please pray for: Clare, Kenzie, Shannon, Ellie, Carter, Anna, Ryan, Sean, Mackenzie, Rebecca, Alice, Fern, Reed, Ella, Andrei, Ben, and Megan.
Keep progress with the pilgrims! Photos and stories will be shared when we return.
Day 1: Arrive in Dublin – stop at Glendalough, a monastic settlement founded in the 7th century, on our way to County Wexford.
Day 2: Visit to St. Mullins, which contains over 1600 years of Christian history, via a path along the Barrow River from the town of Graiguenamanagh.
Day 3: Sunday Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford and time to explore the city.
Day 4: Visit to Dublin for the day.
Day 5: Hike to glacial valley of Coumshingaun and 300 ft Mahon Falls.
Day 6: Trip to nearby island bird sanctuary and visit to one of the oldest lighthouses in Europe.
Day 7: Back to Dublin to fly home.