A pilgrim is a person who journeys to a foreign place. That foreign place can be a many different things. It can be a physical place, an emotional place, a mental place, or a spiritual place. When you start to feel called to a place it is a chance to explore the unknown inside and out. There is excitement and trepidation about the unknown journey. If you knew where you were going it wouldn’t be unknown, and therefore just a vacation.
I didn’t want a vacation. I wanted to see what was out there. What ideas, people, vistas and experiences were waiting for me. I wanted more. My first step to find more came when I was a new mother. I was only 26 years old with a nine month old baby. I needed friends. I needed a place to go with my beautiful daughter wearing her prettiest dresses. Most of all I needed to replace my childhood religion which no longer worked for me. So on All Saint’s Day of 1990 I went to the local Episcopal church. There was everything I needed. Beautiful music, beautiful architecture, incense and bells. I was in heaven. We even sang my favorite hymn. I was home. I look back on that day as the first step. This was a declaration that I wanted more. I had no idea where I was going but I was happy. It might not have been a foreign land but I was definitely a pilgrim. I will never forget that day.
It took a lot of courage for me to go to church on my own but I did it. Each step of a pilgrimage takes courage. There are no maps, just an inner knowing that you must go. Nineteen years later I left that same baby home to go on my first pilgrimage to Egypt. She was not well but well looked after. I had to go. I had to leave and take the next step in my life. It took courage to fly around the world and step off into the unknown but I did it. My life was forever changed again.