Help me to journey
Beyond the familiar
And into the unknown.
Give me the faith
To leave old ways
And break fresh
Ground with You…
(The first stanza of the Prayer of St. Brendan of Clonfert, “the Navigator”
Irish patron of sailors, written in the 6th Century)
People whose lives intersect ours on many different levels are so important. They include family, friends, co-workers, even casual acquaintances.
Our time together was less than two weeks, but the eleven ‘pilgrims’ who participated in an educational pilgrimage to Spain in March 2018 hold a very special place in my heart. We were different ages. Our ethnicities varied. We were single, widowed and married. Our hometowns were in highly-populated cities and small hamlets.
We were all followers of Christ. Even though we shared similar fundamental beliefs, our individual stories, personalities, life events, and journeys of faith created prismatic perspectives through which we each embraced the unique pilgrimage experience.
Fellow “pilgrims” and new friends with Fr. Javier (center) who served us communion in the ancient cave where St. Ignatius’ spirit encountered God’s Spirit in life-altering ways.
As a group, our relationships included brief but meaningful one-day exchanges with four different tour guides who shared well their knowledge of history, culture, and love for their homeland.
I’ll always remember the soft-spoken Jesuit priest who guided our talkative bunch of American Protestant pilgrims through four days of teaching on contemplative (silent/listening) prayer. Fr. Javier Melloni’s deep religious devotion and keen intellect were evident, but what impressed me most about Javier was his ability to be fully present whether in prayer or while visiting one-on-one. I was reminded through his example how “not present” I so often am—whether communicating with God or with one of God’s creations.
Like the 6th Century Irish missionary, Brendan, each of us had beforehand decided to “journey beyond the familiar,” to travel beyond “old ways” and to “break fresh ground” with the God we love and serve.
The result? The same Divine Spirit met with each of our human spirits in distinctive ways. In our always-changing worlds confidence in the never-changing Spirit of God seems cause for great comfort and joy.
Blessings on your journey beyond the familiar to break fresh ground…