The exterior of the cathedral is how I remember it from my last visit.….beautiful, but under renovation. In fact, it is something of a letdown after all those miles, to see scaffolding on this landmark cathedral. But the truth is, the exterior renovation is necessary to preserve the building for future generations and in reality, the exterior’s condition does not matter…..at least not for us. We were not on pilgrimage simply to see the exterior walls of a cathedral.
|Our guide giving us final instructions|
But there is more to the statement “We did it!”. It also means we did the spiritual work of pilgrimage. We radically shifted our prayer daily routine and spiritual practices; we participated in multiple group reflections; we spent time engaging others in discussion from around the world. It means, somewhere along the way, we changed our approach from “me” to “we”, paying attention to the needs of our fellow pilgrims more than our own needs. It means we relied on the Holy Spirit for guidance, rather than our own “knowledge”. It means we walked towards more than a specific destination…rather, we moved towards finding healing within, even while we were blistering without.
My hope is that the spiritual gifts we have received on this trip will become manifest in the way we live. I am confident this will happen. I am confident that our pilgrimage is not over, and we will continue to grow from our experiences in Spain and France…. that this is the beginning for many in our group, not the end. I encourage you to ask each pilgrim about the details of the trip. I am sure they will be happy to share. But, 23 people are now different than they were 2 weeks ago….in some ways that are not yet known. I pray you see those changes in how they live their lives, and you continue to cheer and encourage our pilgrims.