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In the opening book study for the School for Christian Practice at Grace, we began exploring the image or practice of pilgrimage, of how the Holy Spirit is always on the move–and how we are called to share in this movement in our own practice of faith. It is difficult to know where to begin with a pilgrimage in Italy. There are so many layers of history and human and cultural development. There are also countless ways to explore art, architecture, literature, nature, music, and food. Do we focus on the Christian history of the region, or do we open it up, so to speak, to explore ancient history as well as the developments of the Renaissance? No matter where we focus, it seems that the basic philosophical framework or lens of truth, goodness, and beauty offers a helpful way to organize our thoughts and intentions on such a pilgrimage.
We want to plan a pilgrimage for 2022 that will focus on three key cities or areas: Rome, Assisi, and Florence. These three centers are quite different, and each offers a rich space for spiritual reflection and learning. We imagine a ten or eleven day trip, with three days in each city that include a free day in each stop as well. This will be a slower pilgrimage, one that offers ample time for guided movement and reflection while also offering that vital spaciousness that fosters prayer and insight.
Each participant will be asked to choose a topic, person, location, or question to focus on, building on the framework of truth, goodness, and beauty. For example: you might want to explore the way the beauty of Renaissance painting broadens your understanding of God’s beauty in the world. You might want to explore the sacramental nature of family meals that offer spaces for long conversation and compassion. You might want to focus on the life of St. Francis or St. Clare. The possibilities are endless, and the intentional preparation for the trip and the conversation with the group truly are the groundwork that will nurture deeper meaning for us all. A good first question would be, “Where do I see God here?”
While we cannot make definite travel plans now, we can begin to look ahead at the potential before us. On one hand, it will give us structure to save funds for our trip, but even more meaningfully, it will give us an orientation point as a community for a space of spiritual growth and community as we wonder what life will be like, perhaps, when we finally manage the dynamics of the pandemic. We can have something to look forward to.
If you are interested in exploring this potential pilgrimage, please write and let us know. And, if you could, please indicate the times of the year that would be possible for you, for example: spring, summer, or fall, or only summer, or only spring and fall, etc. We will compile these and see where the most energy lies and then take next steps according to travel details.
So, at this point, we invite you to pray about this and see if your heart is stirred to explore. Send us an email and let us know of your interest and availability. We will do our best to find a time that matches most folks who are interested, and then we will plan from there.