Category: Pilgrimage


Advent: The Road is Made by Walking

Gospel According to Saint Luke (3:1-6) John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” When Luke quotes Isaiah in this

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Taking Flight

As I began this year I had an encounter with a flock of pigeons which lifted my heart unexpectedly and then I found a feather on my doorstep.  And so “Taking Flight” became my image for the year ahead.  On my recent pilgrimage, winged ones – both avian and angelic – were significant symbols for me, appearing to me constantly during my travels and reminding me of that heart-transcending moment months before. The crow in particular became significant.  I have always loved these black “glossy and rowdy” creatures, and since moving to Seattle over six years ago I have become

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What Lives Inside Silence

I think we talk because what lives inside silence scares us. -Linda Hogan Where will your own “zona sacra” be found today? (Photos taken at the Abbey of Montecassino in Italy) © Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts: Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts

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What is a Monk?

There is a story from the Desert Fathers where one asks another “what is a monk?”  And the response was “someone who asks ‘what is a monk?’ everyday.” Laurence Freeman, OSB at the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates in Rome began his talk on contemplation with this image and invited us as Oblates to consider the same possibility – that being an Oblate means asking ourselves, ‘what is an Oblate?’ every single day.  I loved this definition shaped by a continual return to questions.  It embraces one of the central hallmarks of Benedictine life which is a commitment to conversion. 

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Lingering at the Threshold

I am leaving again to lead a retreat on Honoring Our Ancestors.  These next few days are a threshold time in the Celtic calendar, when the veil between worlds is said to be especially thin.  I have been lingering in this thin place for the last month and am eager to join with a group of women to honor this sacred time of year.  In the Christian tradition, we are entering a time when we honor our beloved dead who have passed on before us. Together with my teaching and writing partner Betsey Beckman, we will engage in art and

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A Walk Can Change Everything

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. -Wallace Stevens I began my pilgrimage in Rome arriving late at night after my flight was delayed by several hours and I was bumped to a later connection.  The first day of the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates was very full.  I remember feeling filled with anticipation and also drained from the long travel.  The Congress was held at a conference center on the outskirts of Rome, a beautiful setting.   That first evening I took a long slow walk around the perimeter of the property.  The evening light was illuminating the world around

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Unexpected Bliss

Christine at Blisschick invited me to reflect on a moment of “unexpected bliss” for her series this week. Stop by to read my reflections on the way language can express the “curves of (our) longing” . . . lovely for me to re-read these words I wrote before my trip as I sit now in Vienna.  Tomorrow I head to Ireland for the final third of my pilgrimage triptych and won’t have much computer access while there, so more stories and photos when I return home in just over a week.

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