As you may have read about in one of my previous posts, Ben and I spent the first three months of our marriage moving around from state to state preparing for the missionary life. Whenever friends would ask for my current address I would give it to them but with the caveat to “Check back with me next week!”
I enjoyed living out of my suitcase when I was in college—whether I was embarking on my European adventures, choosing to travel every summer weekend to explore new cities with old friends, or going on road trips in a beat up 1992 station wagon. But just starting my life with my new husband made me crave stability more than ever. Even when we were dating, we had talked excitedly about getting a home with a decent sized yard for our many children to enjoy and to hold our garden, with my ducks and his bees. We had planned a quiet life for ourselves, and we wanted to get stared right away with building what we had imagined but the plans really weren’t up to us. We were asked by God to be missionaries and for a while, I thought that doomed us to a nomadic existence.
It is only now, months later that I’ve realized that we weren’t nomads at all— we were pilgrims.
a person who journeys to a sacred place
Early Church pilgrims undertook their journey with nothing but the clothes on their back and maybe a walking stick to help them along the way. It was usually taken as a form of penance, in reparations for their sins. The trek was a cleansing one, one that made them suitable to enter the sacred place to which they journeyed.
There have been moments over the last year where we could relate to the Holy Family and their flight into Egypt and other moments where we feel like we could relate to Dante making His way through Purgatory. Or to a little tiny flower bud trying to break through the soil.
The sacred place we were journeying to isn’t the Vatican or the Holy Land. It wasn’t Alabama. It was is “…the Mountain…the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born” (C.S Lewis, Till We Have Faces).
We are still pilgrims and always will be, even when we do finally find that home, that yard, that garden, and those ducks. Even when our lives aren’t packed away in cardboard boxes or beat up suitcases.
Ben and I are journeying where God lead us, on a path that only could lead to Him. Our path just happens to include 3 months of homelessness, some time fundraising, and living in a cozy apartment in Alabama. Thankfully, it has also included jobs we love, daily opportunities for the sacraments, holy priests and a lovable deacon, and friendships with people we would never have met otherwise.
We don’t always understand it, but we trust that this path, this crazy winding path, will lead us to the home God has destined us for to be with Him until the end of time.