The pilgrim herself-Sr. M. Louise!
|First snowfall in Ottawa, December 2012|
Since I joined the Disciples of the Divine Master in 1998 I have lost count of how many times I have packed my suitcases and moved to a different community often in a different country, said goodbye to another group of my sisters and moved onwards with trust that this is God's way for me. It has brought me to live in Ireland, Poland, Italy, Vatican City, Canada, United States and now back to Ireland! Yet people dare to say that religious life is boring! I returned to Ireland from Ottawa in 2014 after having completed my licentiate in Canon Law so as to practice in this field here in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Did I think I'd be doing this 10 years ago!? Not at all! It's part of the adventure of saying 'yes' to God. We live in an adventurous universe in which we live adventurous lives, despite the apparent regularity and stability – some would say boredom – of the everyday.
As a symbol for life’s pilgrimage, I return to my roots. I think of those Celtic monks who sailed out to sea in coracles, little boats, without a rudder for steering. The coracle was not just a boat, it speaks of much more–of journey and pilgrimage, risk and wonder, fear and peace, prayer and praise, wild storms and quiet sunsets, the discovery of many things unknown. And it speaks of a way that people can travel together. But the coracle, the boat, is not the point, it’s merely the vessel, it only exists so that other things can happen. Though the monks affirmed human freedom, they also trusted God to guide them to their place of resurrection, the place of wholeness and fulfillment, where they would experience God’s vision for their lives. They experienced divine guidance in the wind and waves that propelled their skiffs to surprising places. They assumed providence and synchronicity everywhere. I am that Celtic pilgrim. I allow the Lord (though not always without resistance) to steer my boat and guide it. We are all pilgrims on an uncertain, but holy adventure and the most important thing we can do is embrace the adventure and remember that by our choices we are creating new adventures for ourselves and others. While the world becomes more routine and predictable, or so we think, as we grow older, our lives are still an adventure in which we – like the Celtic peregrines – pilgrim from day to day.
The Celtic Christians recognized that life involves change. God was not only our companion amid change, but the inspiration to growth and change. The God of Israel never stands still but is immersed in history, shaping and being shaped by the flow of human experience and decision-making. Jesus is always on the move, never settling down, but venturing to new places to fulfill his mission. Every turn of the road brought Jesus a surprising encounter and opportunity to share God’s hospitality, healing, and love. He puts many people upon our path to journey with us and open our eyes to the wonders of each day, the beauty of loving and being loved, of family, of community, of friendship, of unconditional giving.
We are all pilgrims. We can, in the spirit of the Celtic adventurers, join openness to each moment with the intentionality necessary for personal and professional excellence. Many of you reading this know me well...I'm a perfectionist and a micromanager, I make mistakes, I fall down but I get up often with your help and because the Lord raises me up. It helps to have a vision or plan for the day, but live loosely, knowing that holiness is found in interruptions and unexpected bumps in the road. As a pilgrim, this is my challenge...to welcome the God of surprises in the unexpected and the interruptions! We may, like the magi, go home by another way, traveling a pathway we had not expected. This is not the way I planned but the peace in my heart tells me it is the right way. So I keep travelling!