Monday, August 31, 2009

To travel lightly

There’s a great story in the Washington Post about six Franciscan Friars who made a pilgrimage. At first I thought, oh sure, they probably traveled by air, and bus to the Holy Land with a bunch of American tourists. But no, these Friars never left US soil; they walked 300 miles from Roanoke, Virginia to the Monastery of the Holy Sepulcher in Washington DC.

They traveled: without without money, water, food, or advance provisions for shelter in the spirit of their founder, St. Francis – the Little Poor Man of Assisi. Along the way, they relied on the kindness of strangers. And the ecumenical flavor of those kindnesses filled me with an inner joy. If you haven’t already read about this journey, you really must read the story from the Post. It’s one of the most delightful news stories I’ve read in a long, long, time.

I remember being filled with that sort of spirit years ago when I was a teenager. In the years that have passed, I've lost much of that spirit. I love having my beautiful home, not having to worry about food or clothing though I realize that such gifts are subject to sudden change. We read about it daily in the news: entire populations fleeing flood, drought, and famine; working families losing their homes; catastrophic illness wiping out a family's savings.

My prayer has always been to accept whatever confronts me with trust; to believe that good can be found even in tragedy. I try to live generously and hopefully, to spread more joy than fear.

When disheartened by failure, I remind myself that I am on a pilgrimage like those friars. Unlike them, I travel without a halo, and with entirely too much baggage. I hope to discard some of it along the way.
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