I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the most out of this faith journey. How to go about it. How to open myself up to Jesus Christ.
How to engage the faith like a saint. I mull it over.
I’m not certain that is the right approach anymore. It seems more efficient to just be docile, like falling into the swimming pool on that old Nestea commercial. Don’t try to figure it all out. Just give yourself to it, with abandon.
It’s a pilgrimage, not a vacation.
Vacations are planned, mapped out, budgeted, mulled over. You hit the road and argue about when to stop and where to eat.
“You decide. “
“No, you decide. “
“But I’m not hungry yet.”
“Well, I am.”
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“But, we just stopped.”
“That was to get something to drink, and that’s why I have to go to the bathroom.”
“If we keep having pit stops, we’ll never get there.”
No wonder we come home exhausted.
We spend our time bickering about the details and worrying about the unforeseen events and very little goes as planned. The magical moments, those moments that we will remember and cherish twenty years from now, those are almost always the moments we didn’t see coming. The ice cream cone on our last night. The insomnia that sent us to the window where we had a midnight view of Lake Michigan. The afternoon nap in Florida that wasn’t planned but came so full and so deep that we woke up and wondered where we were. Like when we were children. And then we smiled.
In the moment our vacation takes us where we didn’t plan, it looks more like a pilgrimage. And that’s when we realize we really needed a pilgrimage and not a vacation in the first place.
A spiritual Nestea plunge.
Into the arms of Christ.
And maybe that’s the point. Summer vacations – like life – need to make room for pilgrimage moments. And a pilgrimage is about giving up control. It is about opening up the soul.
It is about expecting nothing and receiving everything.
It is about letting God dot the “I” and cross the “T.”
Faith likes a bit of willy nilly, a bit of waiting. A little wonder & awe.
A little wonder & awe at ice cream. At long drives. At Mass in rural America at a church we’ve never seen and will probably never see again.
Like being a disciple and walking from Capernaum to Cana with no expectations. It’s the moment when you taste the best wine you ever had. And you realize that grace showed up.
Vacations can be the best of times. Or the worst of times. And I think it is one of the sadder things that we as Americans spend so much money on something that magnifies the worst we have to offer one another, the very ones we are supposed to love the most.
Like children in the backseat.
“There. That’s your half. Stay on your side.”
“Hey, Dad, are we almost there?”
And you say, no, son. We are already there. This is there.
There’s joy in discovering Jesus Christ in the now of it.
Denise Bossert is a convert to the Catholic faith. She is the daughter of a Protestant minister. Her syndicated column called Catholic by Grace has been published in 63 diocesan newspapers. She has also written for Catholic magazines and has appeared on EWTN. She is a Catholic travel writer and pilgrimage leader with Select International Tours. Her first book is called Gifts of the Visitation. http://denisebossert.com/