I am a great fan of Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan monk and teacher of holy truths. Someday, I hope to visit his Center for Action & Contemplation in New Mexico. But in the meantime, I read him regularly.
As I come up on the tenth anniversary of Jonathan and I arriving in Richmond, for me to take up my new duties as pastor at MCC Richmond, I have been letting the gifts of the years wash over me. I am grateful for so much–the church work, yes, and the sense that this place is truly home, and also all the personal growth that grew out of that work and God’s continuing shaping of me, here.
So it was a special joy to read, on July 2 while I was in Chicago at the UFMCC triennial General Conference, the following excerpt from an audio recording, “On Pilgrimage with Father Richard Rohr”:
A pilgrim must be a child who can approach everything with an attitude of wonder, awe and faith. Pray for wonder, awe, desire. Ask God to take away your sophistication and cynicism. Ask God to take away the restless, anxious heart of the tourist, which always needs to find the new, the more, the curious. Recognize yourself as a pilgrim, as one who has already been found by God.
The reason this feels so vital to me is that I realize that I became a pilgrim here. It took me quite a while to realize how little I knew and how much I needed to look around with an open eye and mind and heart, an open soul. I did not know it when I was called here and we got here, but I came to Richmond to become a pilgrim.
Oh I had been on a long journey before I got here, but until I got quite a ways into my time in Richmond I was more like the tourist Rohr mentions. I still can slip into tourist-iness easily enough, but it does not take too long for me to realize how unsatisfying it can be. The really satisfying way to live is to stay open to God continually finding me and changing me.
People go on pilgrimages for many reasons, of course, but fundamentally they are about change. And the best pilgrimages create interior change, not just showing a new exterior view but more vitally really changing the landscape inside us.
I have changed in so many ways from when I got here in 2003, and it is a good thing.
Thanks be to God!