In the fall semester of 2015, I accompanied my husband, Dan, and 19 Bethel University students on a trip to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France. We thought that would be our final “England Term” trip before Dan’s retirement in 2022.
But God seems to have other plans for us.
I had been praying for a new venture that Dan and I could do together, a calling that would involve both of us. And then, very suddenly at the end of April, the professor who was going to lead this year’s England Term had to back out due to family health issues. So we were asked to take students once again this fall to the UK and beyond!
So here we are again, heading out across the ocean on August 20th. Most people say, “What an adventure!”
But I don’t like adventures. I agree with Bilbo Baggins when Gandalf proposes an adventure: “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
So when I travel, I choose to be a pilgrim. Edward Sellner defines a pilgrim as “someone who voyages to a shrine or holy place with the desire for renewal, wisdom, a change of heart.” This was the attitude I tried to have in 2015 and will aim for again, with God’s help. I also want to help the 19 students coming with us to experience this trip as a pilgrimage done in company with other pilgrims.
Sellner also writes that: “…[P]ilgrimages change us, they touch us at the core; we are not the same when we return to our ordinary lives and daily living.”
I certainly was changed by our 2015 pilgrimage. Besides coming home with a healing elbow (after a break and surgery — thank you very much, British National Health Service), I had an enlarged vision of the Church, an increased understanding of God’s providential care for us over millennia, and a renewed desire to live hungry for God — as so many of the saints did whose places of ministry and life we visited.
I know some of you reading this post were “followers” from the 2015 trip. Please feel free to “unfollow” if you’re no longer interested. But I invite you to come along again as we try to follow Jesus, visit places of beauty and holiness, and experience the JOURNEY, not just the destinations!