"We might look at Ignatian Spirituality as a set of basic attitudes about the pilgrimage we are on. Our response to God is a not a one-time, settled thing. Circumstances will change and new opportunities will open up. God will point in new directions. We need to always stay alert and seize the opportunities we have every day." - David Fleming, The Spiritual Life is a Pilgrimage from What is Ignatian Spirituality
We have returned from our 13-day Ignatian Pilgrimage and are back in our homes or heading off to the next part of our summer. I awoke this morning at 5:30 a.m. I rarely wake up that early, perhaps I'm still on Spanish time. Given that my wife and son are still sleeping, I have some time now to write a final blog post in gratitude for this journey. I am missing our daily rhythm of waking up to cafe con leche, fresh baked bread and jamon serrano, provided to us by the religious communities we were so blessed to stay with. Thank you to those communities for taking care of us and providing us with shelter and food for our daily pilgrimage. Thank you for also taking care of one of our pilgrims who was sick for a day. You helped heal him so he could continue the pilgrimage.
We began each day walking for the first 2 hours in silence with a reflection or prayer given to us by Father Iriberri. Many of the boys shared in our nightly reflections that this time was really transformative and grounding for them. Thank you to Fr Iriberri for providing us pilgrims/peregrinos with reflection, quiet and spiritual nourishment. We miss you already and are so very grateful for your spiritual direction, your humor, your healing hands for sore feet and blisters, and of course for the daily, "Getting Ready" and "Let's Go," we could not have done this pilgrimage without your leadership, organization, daily support and guidance. With deep gratitude, we thank you!
Thank you to my colleague, Catharine Steffens, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early Spring, received treatment, surgery and radiation, and decided to go on this pilgrimage for spiritual renewal and healing. Catharine, you an inspiration to all of us on this journey and when I was really struggling to Jorba, as you warned me, you lifted my spirits. I will continue to keep you in prayer as your body and spirit continue their healing journey. I also have to thank you for making this happen. Given your two prior caminos, you decided to do a third to bring the Camino Ignaciano to GP and helped me make this happen. Thank you for being my co-pilot on this adventure. You have helped fulfill a dream of mine and I will always remember this. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am blessed to be your colleague.
ZURI!!!!!! Ryan, Justin, Kevin, Brendan, Frank, Andres, and Ethan, thank you for taking the plunge with us and thank you to all of the parents for providing the financial and parental support to make this happen. I pray this will be an experience to ground you and guide you as you enter the final years of high school. Each of you contributed to the group and the formation of our pilgrim community. Your energy and eagerness provided Ms. Steffens and me with support for the journey. Thank you for the photos and videos. Ethan, you brought your artistic eye to the pilgrimage. Thank you, Andres, for your questions, curiosity and sincerity, and for helping to bring home the walking sticks! We will have those to remember our journey! Thank you, Justin, for your steady feet, your love of food (even if you eat at mach speed) and your desire to immerse fully at each and every step. Thank you, Frank, for your grit and recovery, joining us for the most difficult stage after being quite sick the day before. Thank you, Ryan, for the Zuri's that kept us going and for your fluency and immersion in Spanish culture. We also knew if that we got lost, your Eagle Scout skills would come in handy! Thank you, Kevin and Brendan, for leading us, both as juniors and as walking leaders on the pilgrimage. I had hoped for a few juniors to join us and you both took the plunge and I am grateful you did. Thank you, Brendan, for your love of the stage to Montserrat. Your passion was contagious, we did it! Thank you, Kevin, for your sharing during the reflection time, you challenged yourself and shared openly as a model for others. You both can bring this pilgrimage experience back to the senior class of 2018.
I am reminded of what Fr Iriberri told us during one of our early stages, "we have begun our Ignatian Pilgrimage and we can also see our life as a pilgrimage." I am thinking he meant for us to realize that though our official Camino Ignaciano will begin and end, we are always continuing our "camino" of daily life. This brings me back to the quote I started with from David Fleming, SJ, "We might look at Ignatian Spirituality as a set of basic attitudes about the pilgrimage we are on. Our response to God is a not a one-time, settled thing. Circumstances will change and new opportunities will open up. God will point in new directions. We need to always stay alert and seize the opportunities we have every day." My prayer for us all of us on this journey and the family and friends we took with us in our hearts and minds is to "seize the opportunities every day" to realize God is always with us and guiding us, calling us to love and serve, we simply need to pay attention.
I found this pilgrimage to be a contemplative experience as the daily walk and breathtaking scenery grounded and renewed our spirits. The long, hot, and physical days made it really challenging for us, yet our community of pilgrims and our inner spirits, where we find God, kept us going. St Ignatius and our Christian tradition calls us to be contemplatives in action - to live our life and act from this grounded place where God lives through us. May we continue this pilgrimage of life, ever-present, ever-grateful and always aware of the gift of this life we are living. May we be ever-mindful of what Fr Iriberri shared with us daily, one of the core teachings of St Ignatius:
"En Todo, Amar & Servir - In all things, to love and to serve."
Our entire pilgrimage group sincerely and lovingly thanks Bill Haardt for his determination in making this experience a reality for Georgetown Prep. His focus, insights, Zuri shouts, and spiritual direction deepened and enhanced each of our personal journeys along the Camino. We are grateful to his leadership and friendship.