Went to church this morning with the family for a special service; we're sending 12 members of our congregation to Iona, Scotland on a religious pilgrimage that happens every few years in our congregation. The "pilgrims", nine teens and three chaperones, will spend two weeks in Europe, visiting a location that has held a special place in Christendom for centuries.It was hard to not be moved by the service, which was based in part on worship ceremonies conducted on Iona. The special connection to Scotland was not lost on me; my Great-Grandmother immigrated to the United States from Scotland, and my Father's side of the family included a long line of Presbyterians with Scottish roots. On my left arm, I have the triquetra (an ancient Celtic symbol used in Christianity to represent the Trinity) permanently inked in my skin. So you can say I have something of a connection to this ancient place.
It was also bittersweet to know I'm entrusting three of the most treasured people in my life—Connie, Andrew and Mackenzie—to this journey. I'll admit to some trepidation; I'm nervous about watching them board a plane that will carry them half a world away. I'm carrying a bit of jealousy that they get to go and I simply cannot, due in large part to the physical demands of the pilgrimage itself. But most of all, I'm excited that they get to participate in this journey and this ritual.
I was struck this morning by the tone of the service. In a world that is increasingly hostile to people of faith, where we often get painted with a wide brush that portrays us as intolerant, angry, selfish people, it was refreshing to hear a message of charity, love, tolerance and peace. It's far different from the caricature that I see daily in the press and in popular entertainment. This is the reality of my faith, and I'm proud to be a part of it. I hope those that are going on this journey can appreciate its larger significance, and not take it for granted as "just another trip".
I wish these dozen pilgrims well on their journey. I can't wait for them to return and to see their pictures, hear their stories, and share the experience vicariously through them. Godspeed, all.