When you pack for a pilgrimage – to Trefeca or Iona perhaps- there are things which may come in handy: a bible and notebook, something to read. A pair of walking boots – and waterproofs of course; money to buy souvenirs from the shop; a phone to keep in touch with the family and a camera to capture those magic moments.
When staying in Iona Abbey recently we welcomed two unexpected visitors who had walked the journey from Lindisfarne to Iona, on pilgrimage. They hadn’t booked, they had no money and so couldn’t pay. They came trusting that they would find a welcome and a bed.
Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs with this instruction: ‘Don’t take anything with you on the trip except a walking stick—no bread, no beggar’s bag, no money in your pockets. Wear sandals, but don’t carry an extra shirt. Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that place. If you come to a town where people do not welcome you or will not listen to you, leave it and shake the dust off your feet.’ (Mark 6 8-11)
Our visitors were Jesuit novices. In similar fashion they were sent on their way with only essentials, including photocopied maps of the route, but no phone and no money. They were to ask for their keep as they went, explaining that they were pilgrims (but not declaring that they were Jesuit novices). In view of Covid 19, they were permitted to take a tent, but that was an exception to the usual protocol!
They ate because people were generous. They were able to pay for the ferry crossings to Mull and Iona because of the kindness of others. It was a blessing to witness the humility and the vulnerability of these young faithful disciples.
God when I am feeling vulnerable, help me to trust in your mercy and the kindness of others. Amen