A Pilgrim’s Lens

October 2, 2016

img_5578Last July I had the honor to lead a group of eleven teenagers and four fantastic leaders to South Ireland for a Pilgrimage. I’ve intentionally waited to share much about this trip, wanting the Pilgrims to be the first to tell their story to the Christ Church congregation, which they did on October 2nd.

So, now, I’m sharing some of my reflections. They come in two forms – a photo-slideshow (link below) and a few of my daily journal entries – my personal reflections. The over-arching sentiment was captured on Day 2 with this side note:

What a ridiculous privilege it is to get to do this for a living. #worththewait 

First Impressions

First stop               Glendalough                Green, Green, Green

Lush             Moist           Full              Elfy             Mystical            Magical

Morning service amid the ancient monastery and cemetery

Leaning tombstones                  Fractured walls of stone

Whimsical trees                 Fox-glove belled blooms

Blue-marked sheep                   Two deer resting on green

Mist, sun, water, grass, blue, gray, green, green, green.


Being Fashioned

img_5595This group of Pilgrims began as strangers, now they finish each other’s sentences…    share the load                     laugh easily together                              play ENDLESSLY together      they even invite SONG (a new thing)

How is their fashioning being done?

By family?      By society?                        By school?       By one another?

By God?

By God…   through family, society, school, one another.




img_5904It is the morning of Day 3 and it looks like a beauty!

We are headed to the coast and a bird-sanctuary island offshore.

I’m excited for the anticipated elation and childlike enthusiasm that will surely greet the Puffins.

Yesterday it was dogs of all shapes, sizes, and all welcoming.

Today… birds, beach, water, sun, smiles.

God’s coloring book awaits.


The Kingdom of God 

The Saltee Island –  a city unto itself, but not with human dwellers…

instead puffins, razorbills, gulls and gannets, the largest sea bird.

Living in harmony – the kingdom of God at hand

Exile of paradise

The deepening darkness of a fern-covered field.

Beauty released!

Spirits soar          and flap          and waddle           and squawk

And then there were seals. The puppies of the sea.

Drawn Deep

Whimsy and Majesty are ONE.



Ordinary and Extraordinary:

This place and time and adventure is anything but ordinary, yet a new routine is quickly adopted as such.

Coffee, journal, cereal, morning service, pack sack lunch, load into the bus, off to the day’s adventure, snap some shots, hike, explore, reflect, back on the bus, next stop… hike, explore, reflect, snap shots, back on the bus, return to retreat centre, dinner, shower, Compline, pillow. #rinse and repeat


God is in the midst of it, yet not always clearly defined as such.

Taking time to turn God’s love over in my hand and hold the smooth heaviness of God, like a Saltee Beach stone. Then, moving it to my heart.

As certain as the new day.

Every turn, every glimpse, every laugh, smile, and tear – they are all laced with God’s love.

Every blade of grass, flower petal, bird’s feather, gulls cry – they reveal God’s love for me.

These ordinary and extraordinary things are God’s love.

The splash at the bottom of the deep well… God’s love.

The puffins’ cartoon face… God’s love.

The Pilgrims playing football… God’s love.

The perseverance of Ireland… God’s love.

If I take the moment and turn it over in my hand, it reveals itself more clearly. Yet, even when I don’t take the time for this reflection, it is no less a certainty in my heart.

God’s Love.


Each day began with a morning prayer time, and ended with Compline from the Celtic Daily Prayer book. We also used daily reflections used by the Northumbria Community. The last meditation given to the Pilgrims was to be read on their first full day back home, after Pilgrimage.

I will not die an unlived life,

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid,

more accessible,

to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise…

Dawna Markova



And, now, through the lens, journey alongside us.

One Response to “A Pilgrim’s Lens”

  1. Looks like a wonderful trip! Nice photos! 🙂

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