Jesuit life · Reflection

Looking back over the journey so far

It is difficult to write about my pilgrimage experience after two and a half weeks, with another three and a half weeks to go, because my perception of it changes frequently, often depending on what has just happened and what my mood is.

Leaving from the novitiate
Leaving from the novitiate

On Friday when I led us down the wrong road for about three miles and then had to do the same distance to get back on track while a thunderstorm raged above and rain trickled down my legs was not a high point. But sitting outside at Walsingham on Wednesday in the sun was a much more congenial time as have been the meetings with people who generously aided us or shared something of their journey with us as we shared something of our journey with them.

There have been highs and lows; no doubt they will continue. Thankfully, none of the lows have prevented us from continuing and hopefully the wounds will heal. It is too soon to say what the lasting graces and lessons of the pilgrimage will be. In my last blog post I wrote about Ignatius’ hopes for the pilgrimage. We have had to grow accustomed to some “discomfort in food and accommodation” and there have been instances when I have come to the end of my own resources and placed my reliance in my creator and Lord. In a general way the whole venture is undertaken in the same spirit. Afterwards will I go back to taking my bed for granted and putting reliance in created things? It seems unlikely to effect a total and permanent change, but hopefully it will be a step along the way to living more like this.

Slipper chapel, Walsingham
Slipper chapel, Walsingham

It would be a continuation of the graces of the Spiritual Exercises, to live in the vision of the Principle and Foundation which I found in a more concentrated form in the letter to the Romans on the second or third day of the pilgrimage: “Everything there is comes from him [God] and is caused by him and exists for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.” (NJB Rm.11:36).

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