We are now at roughly 16 days away from my next pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The reality of the pilgrimage is slowly setting in; including the fact that I will be leaving my 8-month-old son for the first time for a transcontinental trip. Though I am not feeling anxious or sad yet, I am sure that will change as the days continue to count down towards my departure.
I was thinking about the upcoming pilgrimage during our Easter celebrations this past Sunday. As I stood amidst the beauty of the sanctuary adorned in its finest, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the flowering cross in the narthex. I listened as my wife read the story of Mary Magdalene’s discovery of the empty tomb; her confusion, her pain, her desire to know where the body of her friend had been taken, and I closed my eyes. The words of the story flowed over me and through me, and I was immediately taken back to the tomb, to the garden. I too was standing near that empty tomb watching the scene unfold in the darkness of a pre-dawn morning.
After being immersed in the story once again, I was thinking about my upcoming pilgrimage and how I will once again go, touch, and pray at the very tomb from the gospel story. Going on pilgrimage has changed the ways in which I hear and read scripture. I have walked in many of the places in the stories that we hear on Sundays and putting landscapes with the familiar narratives has unlocked a whole new way of experiencing scripture which has deeply impacted my faith.
In this season of Easter we are reminded of how we are given new life in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With this new season comes new opportunities to grow closer to God, to deepen our relationship with our Creator. I am looking forward to once again walking in the footsteps of Christ; to once again touch, smell, and connect with God in new and different ways. Even though I have been to these places before I will go again, but I am different so the experiences this time around will be different. Each time we engage in a sacred journey we carry with us all that we are, all the joys and sorrows of our hearts and since we are never the same we experience these sacred places anew, but with different lenses through which to experience our risen Lord.
So while I know what I will see in just about two weeks time, I do not know how God will reach out to me this time around. The green blade is rising once again as a sign of God’s renewing love. The only question that remains for me is, how will I prepare my mind and heart to receive this renewing love so that I may grow deeper into the heart of God?