A small group of pilgrims began paddling south from the headwaters of the Connecticut River at Fourth Connecticut Lake this week — the start of the 40 day journey of the River of Life pilgrimage.
They began with a Pilgrimage Blessing:
As you go into the wilderness of the land and of your heart –
May you experience the ever-flowing grace of God’s presence!
May you be immersed so fully in God’s love that you learn to let go and swim!
May you engage deeply and radically with the natural world, as steward, co-creator, and friend!
May you drink anew from the divine source, the stream of living water!
And may you be transformed, may the stagnant waters of your spirit begin to flow, and may all which is dead in you rise again!
God is here. The river awaits. Let the adventure begin.
Bishop Rob Hirschfeld writes, “This pilgrimage will be a time when we are asked to be face-to-face with the source of our Existence, the Being that flows through our days, our bodies, our personal and collective histories. Some of us may have been asked, ‘What’s the purpose of a pilgrimage? What are your goals?’ I wonder if Moses felt the same hesitancy if people asked him questions when he came down from Mt. Horeb? I want to be unprotected in my encounter with God, the IS WHO IS AND WILL BE, stripped of the cushions that keep me from fully BEING WHO I AM. I want to see if, apart from my doing in this world, can I live in God’s presence and not be consumed? I want deliverance, which the Bible tells me happens, so often, through water. That people look at me askance when I say these things may be an indication that we are indeed on a pilgrimage with God.”
As Mark and Lisa, the trusted and joyful river guides, reflected, “the wilderness…is the place where our ordinary human confines fall away – our routines, our physical comforts, our habitual thought patterns and our cultural conditioning are disrupted. God invites us to let go, to be broken down and broken open, so that God’s own wild presence can speak to us freshly. To bring something new into our hearts and into the world, God needs to first lead us into a place of wilderness and freedom.”
Stay tuned for the next phase of the adventure!