What Caught Your Attention Today?

In my previous blog, I wrote about expectations and disappointments. I’m sure every honest pilgrim has had some disappointments during the pilgrimage — the weather, the food, the company, perhaps even the goal wasn’t as expected.

In Wales, when we stayed at a retreat center called Gladstone’s Library, I talked with an Anglican priest who had walked the entire way of the pilgrimage to Santiago Compestela, at least 100 kilometers through France and Spain. I said something banal like, “That must have been great…” He replied, “No, not really. I expected to have some spiritual high moment but I never did. It was just physically hard. But I had promised myself that I would do it before I was 40 and this was my last chance. So I can cross that off the list.”

I don’t know what went wrong with this man’s pilgrimage but I am learning something about my own. Lessons you may recognize yourself!

Hold expectations lightly — enough already said about that in my last post!

Also, don’t let one or two negative aspects color an entire experience. Noisy teenagers at Taizé, theology in a Bible talk that I thought was way off base — I determined not to let that ruin the rest of the time at Taizé. The center of the community there is worship and prayer. So I made that the center of my few days at Taizé.

Church of the Reconciliation before thousands fill it for worship Church of the Reconciliation before thousands fill it for worship

The noisy French teenagers who wouldn’t be quiet before worship actually prompted another question: what do I pay attention to? Do I allow myself to get grumpy because of them, or do I focus on all the other thousands filling the church, kneeling with eyes closed, obviously praying? In the midst of 5-8 minutes of silence for which the Taizé worship is known, do I let the intermittent (ok, it was pretty constant!) coughing and throat clearing hijack my thoughts (why don’t they give out cough drops!?!). What am I paying attention to — coughing and throat clearing or the “sounds of silence” rising above?

A pilgrimage is what you make it. God is everywhere at all times! What is God inviting us into? To what are we paying attention?

Dan in front of the old church at Taizé Dan in front of the old church at Taizé

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