People with questions go on pilgrimage.
The questions are as varied as the stars in the sky. If we believe in God then we are often seeking answers to thoughts about people, circumstances, the world, sickness and death – well the events of our lives. We can look in books, talk to others, pray, do; but lingering doubts see pilgrimage as a means of being away from everyday life and hopefully focus only on the journey.
To be involved in the climbing of the Blue Mountains from Emu Plains to Bell was a by chance happening for my husband Guy and me.
RELATED: The Epiphany Pilgrimage
While visiting our son in Blaxland in November we attended Mass at St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook and taking note of the newsletter we noticed the advertisement for the Epiphany Pilgrimage.
Being in the mindset for pilgrimages due to walking the Way of St James (the Camino) in Spain recently, we sent of an expression of interest. Following through we packed our bags and headed down to Sydney in the New Year.
The morning of the 2nd of January we met our fellow pilgrims, all seemed competent and fit and well in charge of themselves. We hoped that we of retirement age looked able as well. Mass brought us together and blessed our journey.
Seven days in the mountains lay ahead of us.
Along the roads, through tracks, up steps, over logs, climbing ladders, the Rosary, marvelling at snatches of views, the birds calling, the Angelus, the trees straight and tall or stunted by the winds, with the cicadas noise that silenced everything else, we journeyed.
The packs with water and rocks were an intentional and necessary burden, one to help focus our reason for walking and the other to refresh us regularly.
As we walked we talked, the sharing giving insights into each other’s life.
I am humbled by the knowledge that our outer determination and perseverance cannot indicate our inner struggles. A family we became, accepting, understanding and caring. Many a hand was offered in support and steadying.
The sore muscles, the blisters and tiredness exposed our vulnerability, but also drew us together and we rejoiced in prayer each evening.
Were our questions answered or did more questions arise, I suspect a bit of both. Some spoke of feeling calmer of being open to hearing our Lord in the Scriptures and relationships. For me coming to realise that the gifts the Magi brought to Jesus were the works of their lives, namely themselves, helped me see that my gift to Jesus is myself; that I can be me.
Placing our rocks in the base of the altar was like laying down our burdens only to see them transformed into a gift for God.
This Armenian Church reflection, for me is the essence of the pilgrimage: ‘These three wise men from the East set an example that we are still called to follow today. To trust, journey, seek, worship and offer the gift of our lives to the King of Kings’ (The Epiphany Pilgrimage Journal 2018, page 16).
The Epiphany Pilgrimage is well organised with attention to detail. I would like to thank Briony and Jesse and their team for the opportunity and would recommend it to all as a journey worth taking.
May God Bless each and every one of my fellow pilgrims.
By Patsy Di Mattina, 2018 pilgrim.
Registrations are now open for the 2019 Epiphany Pilgrimage (2 – 8 January 2019). We would love to welcome you on the journey with us.
Registrations close on Sunday, 9 December 2018 or when the pilgrimage reaches capacity.