Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Pilgrimage

C. S. Lewis said that he suspected that if we reached Heaven we would find that it had been Heaven all the way to Heaven, or if we went to Hell, it had been Hell all the way to Hell. I am finding that on my pilgrimage, all the way is a pilgrimage. I suspected it would be this way; I'm pretty sure I hoped it would be this way. It's not just a matter of walking our bit of road on the weekends and then going home to life as usual. It permeates every area of my life.

There is, of course, the obvious, physical side of things. We have to spend 45 minutes to an hour several times during the week walking so that we we'll be in shape to walk on the weekends. Considering that we have to leave home at 6:45 a.m. to get to work and the very earliest we get home, and this is rare, is about 5:15 p.m. So an extra hour makes for a long day. Since we have to walk in town because it's too dark when we get home, we've been taking advantage of the fact that we are there late to go to the 5:00 p.m. Mass at the college where Bill works. This is wonderful, but it puts us home between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., so twelve hours away from home. But difficulty is to be expected on every pilgrimage, so I don't really mind. I have to admit though that sometimes when I get really tired and hungry, I get pretty grouchy.

However, the most surprising thing to me has been a really heightened spiritual awareness. It's as though sometime when I wasn't watching I slipped into another world where everything matters more than I ever realized it did. Things in nature seem to reveal their true nature. I'm more aware of how my behaviour affects other people, of how a moment of rudeness, or irritation, or just plain negligence on my part can reverberate in another person's life.

And also, God seems to be nagging me to death, or, more likely, to life. I can't get away with anything. For instance, I almost always go to Mass and Confession on Saturday mornings. Last Saturday, I was really tired and I slept late and I just did not want to go out. I did not want to do it. It was a battle every step of the way, and then the homily was about a soldier who had fallen asleep on guard duty, and how we have to remain awake.  Little things like this keep happening. It's good. It's keeping me awake.

So far, Advent has not been what I thought it would be. I pictured a time of quiet meditation, and I planned to write a series of meditative posts like I did in Lent. Well, it's just not turning out that way. I have something
to do for the next four nights. One unexpected good thing is that I've been able to get to Mass five days in a row which is almost unheard of since we moved to Mississippi. Tuesday evening I had something to keep me in Memphis, so we drove to work in separate cars and I went to
early Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. When they renovated the cathedral, they moved the tabernacle into a little chapel on the side of the altar. I would have preferred that they had left it where it was, but at least the tabernacle is visible from most of the nave. On the left, you can see the view from the transept. I got to Mass early, so I went to pray in the chapel  and I was  thinking  that because of the way the room
was built, and especially because of the ceiling it felt a bit like being in an egg, but then I thought, no, like being in a womb, and that Jesus was there in the tabernacle waiting to be born when He is given to us in Communion. It was a nice thought to be sitting there in Advent, waiting in the womb of the Immaculate Conception to born with Jesus.



  1. So, if you've read Maclin's blog today, I swear I didn't read it until I'd already written mine.


  2. "...sometimes when I get really tired and hungry, I get pretty grouchy."

    Don't we all. When I see this or some other similar thing in me--being short-tempered because something hurts, etc.--I always think of Screwtape pointing out the effects our bodies have on our souls and vice versa as something his pupil should always remember to exploit.

    1. That's a good thing to keep in mind.