It is so good to be back at St. Peter’s. I thought I would share a few thoughts about my time away here in the Beacon. And, yes, I am happy to talk about any aspect of any of this with you or to answer any questions.
On October 3rd Selinde and I set out to walk the last 400 kilometre of the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome. We began in Lucca, a gem of a city near the famous leaning tower of Pisa. After making our way through some suburban and industrial areas, we entered the heart of Tuscany: rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards of world-famous wineries, and rivers the colour of turquoise. The natives were friendly, greeting us, feeding us and encouraging us on our way. Our fellow pilgrims were likewise helpful and supportive. We quickly developed a little travelling community of 10 or 12 walkers from across the globe, and we seldom stopped to rest or eat without encountering someone we had met earlier on the trail. Many days it was a hard slog, but the beauty of the place helped keep our minds off the pain in our feet.
It was a time of learning, and the most important thing I learned is that when you set out on a pilgrimage with an open heart, you never really know exactly where it will take you. I started our walk believing that it was a pilgrimage to Rome, but in fact it was a pilgrimage to a hospital in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to the bedside of my precious baby sister.
We had walked almost 250 kilometres of the Via Francigena when I got news of my sister’s critical condition, and after 30 hours of frantic travel I arrived at her bedside an hour before she passed away.
My sister Kathy’s death has set me and my family on a new pilgrimage, one of reconciliation and learning to love more deeply. The week I spent in Falmouth and the funeral which we hastily organized were full of grief and sorrow, but also of connection and healing. I am left feeling grateful for all of it. And I am grateful for the prayers and support I felt from all of you at the other end of the continent.
It is another lesson to me that the beginning and end of all things is love, love expressed in kindness and openness and seeing the light of Christ in one another, and that whenever we set out on an unknown road, we can never be sure where it will take us, but with faith, we can always be sure that it will take us where we need to be.
I am happy to be back, and I look forward to an Advent and Christmas season full of blessings.
If you need to speak with Reverend Jim at any time, please call 250-732-2650 or EMAIL