“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon
Thanks John, this is helpful, especially as our three days of pilgrimage branching out from the Sorrento Centre now come to an end. The truth is, we were just getting going – we need at the very least three more days — also pilgrimage as a daily spiritual experience never ends. Today however, we must leave our gathering place, as have others throughout BC at other times during this year’s Season of Creation, fellow pilgrims who have delved into pilgrimage during this sacred season.
On our third day together, we returned to the Adams River, the site of our first pilgrimage two days ago. We were treated to a fulsome explanation of the biological understanding of the Salmon life-cycle, a rich (if a bit long!) presentation that followed so beautifully the storytelling of Kenthen Thomas the previous evening. Hello Coyote! Science, story, and spectacle joined together to give us a multivalenced overview of the Adams River Ecosystem. There was a problem however! The fish have not yet arrived en masse. We noticed a few early jumpers but that was all. The water is still too warm, and the river level remains low. The right combination of cool and clean water, sufficiently oxygenated is not yet available. The six-day weather forecast is for continued unseasonable heat which does not bode well for the thousands of guests scheduled to arrive Friday night for the Salute to the Sockeye festival. As many who live in the Global South have described for many years now, the seasons, “they may come and go” but their schedule is changing, here and everywhere.
I found myself thinking about our need to embrace change as creation adjusts to new ecological realities given the effects of climate change. The text of an old hymn seems to anticipate this new reality:
Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.
Tate and Brady’s New Version, 1696, 1698
Our three days of pilgrimage have now come to an end. Or have they? For every day continues, consciously or unconsciously as a pilgrimage.
New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought
John Keble, b. 1792
Along the path, crossing the land accompanied by forest and water in this special place, we meet new people, we discover new wonders, we face new challenges, we embrace new and restored loves and lives. Life does not stand still. This particular set of pilgrimages has underlined these truths for me personally. And in our evening sharing circles I discovered that I am not alone.
Our pilgrimages have taken on many moods during our time together. There were moments when our ramblings took us on theological and philosophical journeys not unlike those physical and intellectual travels of Thomas Merton or of Cynthia Bourgeault. At other moments, Michael Shapcott reminded us of the bawdy and raucous Canterbury Tales of Chaucer’s delight along the Canterbury Way (Michael has made this trip himself). In our own way each of us travelers have found time, space, (not enough?) silence or lament, remembrance, and discernment at various times in our recent journey.
As I write these words shortly before breakfast on the threshold of our departure, I should mention two ways we have celebrated our dis-assembly. In the woods near a parking lot, we stood shoulder to shoulder in a circle. In a ritual of hand rubbing, knee slapping and appreciative finger pointing we celebrated each other’s presence, contributions and achievements. The game was playful, respectful, and poignant.
In a different voice at the end of our final sharing circle I read aloud the text from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Whether we recall Nicola Sturgeon’s reading of this passage at the late Queen’s Scottish memorial service, or the music of Peter Seger or The Seekers, the words ring true. Life is diverse, unpredictable, open-ended, sad, opportunistic, risky, Holy and Sacred. Pilgrimage has taken us participants to new places. We pray that in some way readers of this blog have found inspiration for your own faith pilgrimage. Perhaps you might join us in future years in this growing movement throughout our Ecclesiastical Province.
I offer my profound thanks to Michael and Phil; I have never worked with such a copasetic and imaginative team. Fellow pilgrims, what can I say? With Mother Theresa, you each offer something beautiful to God. And to the Social and Ecological Justice planning group, well, we did it, in Sorrento and throughout the province. I am utterly convinced that at all our efforts, Jesus now smiles.
The journey continues . . .
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