During this course on Celtic Spirituality I learned a new and important word: perigrinatio. In the time of Aidan and Cuthbert, some monks would from be called by God to undertake a special kind of pilgrimage. This perigrinatio, as it was called, was not simply a spiritual journey to a place of special significance. This was an unending pilgrimage, with no end except his “place of resurrection” (which of course meant the place where he eventually died). The monk would set out in faith, never to return home but to share the Good News wherever he was led.
As tempting as it might be to stay on Holy Island forever, I am of course returning home now. And yet I am in a sense on my own perigrinatio. I am continuing on my spiritual journey. I am returning to my home but I am not the same person, and home will not be for me as I left it. The day I left on my pilgrimage (and in the weeks leading up to my departure) I was nervous, to say the least. The thought of travelling halfway around the world all by myself was frightening. The past two weeks, however, have taught me that I am strong and the world is kind. I endured discomfort in ways I never thought I could and met people who cared for me in ways I never thought strangers would.
This pilgrimage has done more than simply give me confidence. I have been moved to a very deep sense of gratitude. God has created an incredibly beautiful world for me (for us!) to live in. The saints of every age have blessed me over and over, even while I was journeying alone. Everyday held gifts for me to receive and enjoy.
The week on Holy Island also instilled in me a fresh and hopeful spirit. I heard about incredible new models of ministry. I encountered great and inspiring ideas. And, as we said our goodbyes, two friends spontaneously prayed over me and blessed me while tears streamed down my face (one said not to worry, he always makes women cry!)
Yes, I am returning home but I am also remaining on my own perigrinatio. My journey is not over yet. My story–and the direction God leads me–is a fresh path that stretches out ahead of me. I can’t wait to see where it leads next!