Pilgrimage of Faith

As this two week adventure draws to a close, I sit on the train for these final two hours in awe of all that has been seen, heard, and experienced. I could only imagine on this feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that he would have loved something like this, an opportunity to use all the senses and the power of the imagination, and a whole lot of faith, that when you step off this train, somehow you will get to where you need to be and manage to find what it is you’re looking for. But the great act of faith is really the stepping off of the train in these far distant lands (at the moment, not that far or distant, but a few hours south of Pittsburgh). It would be a much safer experience to just sit in this observation car for two weeks and look at things and their beauty from a distance, but never really experience them. We weren’t designed to be “mere observers” of this world, but rather active participants which requires us to take the risk of what lies out there and step off the train into a new land–not just to observe it or learn about it, but to be a true person of faith who takes the leap off and falls into the loving embrace of God’s creation. That’s walking by faith, or better yet in this experience, riding by faith. And yet, all my past and all my reason tells me to just keep watching it from the observation deck, keep yourself safe; that somehow those things are more important than living it and taking the huge risk we call faith. You don’t have to get hurt this way, won’t get lost, someone else will get you where you need to be, you’ll be protected…it all makes reasonable sense! Plus, I don’t think I could have handled being confined in a train car for two full weeks! Yet, faith is so often more seeming nonsense to the mind!! Then there is that heart, where the courage to take the leap of faith resides–don’t stand idly by as the world passes you by–embrace it, love it, feel it, desire it, participate in it; it has much to offer and you in return. Maybe as this pilgrimage of faith draws to a close (but really just begins) and I approach the train station where I began (but by no means the same person), in Cumberland, Maryland, the prayer I leave with is to have faith in faith in my own life; to trust God in taking the leap off the train when I arrive where my heart is. My experience these two weeks only assures me that all will be well when I do get off, even if I don’t know where I am going! Let go of the need to control and know and have it all planned out. Yes, there is fear and anxiety that comes with stepping off the train, and those faithful companions, fear and anxiety, have been there many times the past two weeks, but to be a true person of faith, it so often simply requires of us the courage to take the first step off and then leave the rest of the trip, and the driving, up to God!

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2 thoughts on “Pilgrimage of Faith

  1. Father…
    Many thanks for sharing your 21st Century Pilgrimage notes…they are worthy of publication…why not? Then a lot of folks could use them for meditation starters!

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