Delta Flight 4016 touched down at 2:55PM Sunday afternoon, August 12, at the South Bend Regional Airport. When it did, Michele and I looked at one another, and gave each other a high five and a kiss on the cheek.
"We did it!" she said.
We did indeed. We were on pilgrimage for two and a half months, and before that, on tour with the Folk Choir for another two weeks. We had actually seen through an itinerary that had been painstakingly constructed back in November.
While planning the pilgrimage, we took into account temperatures (who would want to be in Rome in August?), sites of musical and ecumenical interest (Taizé in Burgundy), places that had historic and national interest (Omaha Beach and Caen's Peace Memorial).
We spent significant periods of time with monastic communities (Tamié in the Savoie) and with priestly communities that shared our vision for evangelization in Ireland (the Irish Pontifical College in Rome).
And we went to places far off the beaten path, places that would've been impossible to take the entire choir (like Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, and the Aran Islands off the coast of County Clare).
Back at home on Monday evening, I took a piece of paper off the front door of the fridge. It was the map that contained all four phases of our trip, the map that we had constructed at the end of last year.
"Look at this," I said to Michele. "Eight months ago, this was just a bunch of lines of a map."
They aren't lines anymore. They are now part of a living history of our pilgrimage of faith.
There is a profound difference between travelers and pilgrims. Travelers, I think, have a different attitude upon their arrival back home. Perhaps it's one of "what's next," or sorting out mail, or looking at kind of shape the lawn is in. Now, we did all those things, too, believe me, upon crossing our threshold. But often, over the past few days, we will hear one another say "Can you believe we did that?. And a sense of wonder would overtake us.
Maybe it's this pervasive sense of wonder that defines a sense of travels taken, of pilgrimage accomplished. Wonder and admiration are always signs of the holy in our lives. That, and gratitude.
We traveled thousands of miles. Never once was anything lost or stolen. There were no messy luggage scenarios. Our flights were just about always on time, and we never encountered a pickpocket or a thief.
But this I do know – the lessons and experiences that we hold between us are only beginning to be unpacked. And we better unpack them well, because all too soon (a fortnight's time), we will be traveling back to Dublin with the Folk Choir!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad