Monday, May 16, 2016

The Difference in a Word

Monday, May 16th, 2016:

At 9:30AM this morning, the Folk Choir departs from the campus of the University of Notre Dame for an amazing pilgrimage to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.

I use the word "pilgrimage" advisedly and with great purpose.  What one calls a thing usually determines both the experience and, in many cases, the outcome.  We are not on "tour."  We are on a pilgrimage.

A few years ago, I had the great opportunity to spend about ten weeks moving through Europe with my wife.  During those travels, I quickly disposed of the word "tourist."  In some ways this secular appellation simply didn't describe what we were about: food, sights, churches and chapels, people, cultures, songs – they were all part of a fabric of wonder.

It wasn't until we were in the lovely portion of Rome called Trastevere that a Notre Dame alum articulated the mystery for us:  "Tourists demand, Steve," he said.  "Pilgrims are grateful."  Gratitude became the compass point of the rest of our travels, and the lens through which we revisited our experiences.

I pray that this might be our mantra as we make our way through the Celtic Isles these next few weeks – that our journey may be one of gratitude, of thanksgiving, of unspeakable joy (even though we might be weary pilgrims!).

My goal is to write every day.  So for those of you who follow the Folk Choir, or my own musings, stay tuned.  A lot of information about our journey will be shared here over the next several weeks.

What you call a thing matters deeply.  We are not on a tour.  We're on a pilgrimage.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

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