Reflections on a 71.5 mile pilgrimage

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By Tom Holmes

Paul and Clare Faherty and Terry and Renee Norton are St. Luke Catholic Church members who went on an eight day, 71.5 mile pilgrimage in Spain last fall.  What follows are some of their reflections on the experience.

Clare: I was fascinated by the fact that the church has lasted 2000 years.  Amazing traditions have come up and the art.  When you go to St. Peter's Square you're just blown away by it.  There is something there.

Paul: On the pilgrimage there was a sense of community and involvement and it happened quickly in 8 days.  We got to be friendly with everybody.  We cooperated.  If someone was lagging people would be there.  It confirmed for me that this is the way the church ought to be, a community.

Paul: You got thinking about your life because you're in a different environment.  You don't have all the clutter of your everyday living.  You have an opportunity to reflect on that.

Terry—Here the radio is always in our brains.  When you go some place far away and walk by yourself for awhile I think God can get into us into our minds, hearts souls more easily because we make time which isn't ordinarily there.

Clare—The election happened while we were there.  I liked everybody, all 21 people.  We found out because of the election that there were a lot of people on the trip who weren't voting the way we were.  There was a small group of us who were voting one way and we'd whisper among ourselves.  As it turned out our candidate did win, but we couldn't jump and down and cheer.  We had to be considerate of everybody.  It also reminded me that people can really disagree with me on a lot of things and be terrific people.  I really thought about that a lot.

Renee—I respected everyone on the trip, I knew there were people I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time with but I was glad I got to know them.

Terry—I don't know about change but it gives you a little different perspective to see people from all different countries all in the same place.  As we would discover they're just like us we're just like them.  It's something you lose sight of sometimes.  Something that impressed me a lot was that we are from America and met people from Spain, England and other places and we were all going the same direction.

Renee: The thing I keep telling my friends and family is that the trip was far more difficult than I thought it was going to be and it really taught me that I can be pretty smug about thinking I'm in pretty good physical condition, that I can do what I want to do.  It taught me a good lesson.  There were a lot of challenges.

Clare:  I thought what would it be like being a refugee trudging along not knowing where you're going to sleep at night and it made me realize how really privileged I am.  It was hard for me but nothing compared to other people

Terry: Part of what helped us think about our lives was this incredible natural beauty.  We walked through beautiful natural terrain, hills, mountains, gorgeous places which helps when you have a few moments to think about what life is about.

Paul: One of the things I was thinking about while we were doing the trip is that we were in a completely different environment, but we could do the same thing here.  We could take a walk and it would be entirely possible.  So I think you can have in your mind a pilgrimage which is just thinking things clearly by pushing aside the distractions of our lives.

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