Guatemala 2016 | On Pilgrimage

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 1.49.01 PMIn about two weeks I’ll be venturing out on a pilgrimage to Guatemala. Actually the pilgrimage has already begun, or at least the preparations are well underway. Airline tickets have been purchased, passport dusted off, packing list consulted, inoculations received. And I’ve been doing some reading. Lots of reading. You should see the stack of books. Reading and reflecting to prepare myself for all that I will see and hear and experience in Guatemala. To plow up the soil of my heart in preparation for whatever Holy Spirit has in mind for me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 11.24.39 AMThankfully I won’t be going alone. My brothers and sisters from MSFL Cohort #19 will be accompanying me on this journey. Which is a very good thing. Writing about the gift and discipline of community in one of our texts, Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice, Daniel Goody makes the observation that “we are not strong enough to journey alone.” In the Christian tradition there is a long history of pilgrims traveling together. Perhaps because of the old adage that “there’s safety in numbers.” Although when I think about encountering Holy Trinity and God’s call to justice, mercy, and humility (Micah 6:8) I don’t think that there will be any safe place, regardless of numbers. But while there may not be safety in numbers, I believe that there will be strength in numbers. Or better, courage.

That stack of books I mentioned has given me a lot to ponder. To be honest, it’s a bit daunting. I’m not sure whether I can face what Holy Spirit wants to show me about myself, about the world, and about God. I’m not sure whether I can face the changes and challenges in which I’ll be asked to participate. In the final chapter of his book, Groody recounts his own pilgrimage of sorts. He was camping in Yosemite and decided to climb Half Dome. But when he approached the final ascent to the summit he lost his nerve. Three times he turned back. He writes of this experience, “To reach the summit, something had to change. More than anything else, my vision had to be transformed. I did not know what this meant exactly, only that my current framework had broken down and was inadequate to reach the new heights that beckoned me.”

I don’t know what Guatemala will hold for us. But I do know that, like Groody’s experience, something will have to change inside of me. It is becoming increasingly clear that my current framework is inadequate to meet the challenge of ascent into God’s justice and compassion. I can’t face that alone. So I prepare to embark on pilgrimage in the company of an intrepid band of adventurers. Our journey thus far through the MSFL program has been one marked by tears, frustrations, compassion, transformation, and grace. Always grace. And therein lies the courage to travel the road toward transformation together and in the company of Holy Trinity once again.

Daniel G. Groody, Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice, 2007.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 2.32.28 PMTim pastors a small country church in rural Vermont where family, community and creation all come together to help shape a way of following Christ and provide ample space for reflecting and writing about this journey. Read more of Tim’s writings on his blog: