Well, well, well. As I prepare to set off for Rome this afternoon I have been reminded that pilgrimage is about teaching one to live by the rhythm of being on the road. That is, nurturing an attitude of trust in the face of uncertainty, planning life one day and one stage at a time, and discovering the hidden gifts that we carry within as we face life’s challenges and enjoy life’s blessings.
Four days ago I learned that the half time position I was hoping to return to was offered to another candidate. I won’t go into the details. It was a surprise to me as we had been in conversation for nearly four months, but I do believe that they did what they thought was best for them. Nonetheless, I find myself contemplating that, while the Rome to Rumi pilgrimage will end sometime in late October, I will step back into the States practicing life as pilgrimage. At this point I have made no decisions about an income and where I will live. My savings will be mostly depleted and my health insurance will run out in mid-November.
I am sobered, but I am not anxious (well, okay, I lie a little bit!). For years I have felt that I am crossing a bridge into a new world. I feel deeply called to the role of spiritual leader and guide in our community and culture. For most of my professional life that has meant serving the institutional church, but colleagues and the larger community have prodded me for years telling me that my voice and presence are meant for a much broader context. So, I am stepping out on the ledge of my old world hoping, trusting and praying that the calling I feel is more than just wishful thinking and idealism run amok.
I have just enough evidence to convince me that the world on the other side of this bridge is real. When I downsized and let go of 90% of my possessions last year a homeowner stepped in and offered me free rent in exchange for watching over the property in a house sitting arrangement. This week four of my friends offered to let me stay in their homes when I returned long enough to figure out my next step. Two friends and a family member offered to help out financially if I ran into troubles either on the trip or upon my return. Dozens of others are quietly supporting me feeling that I am doing the right thing despite the challenges and risks.
I feel like I should be scared or, at least, highly anxious. But, something is driving me, calling me, and goading me to step into this new world. Later today I will board the plane for Rome and let this pilgrimage unfold. One thing I have learned on pilgrimages is that one must let it unfold one day and one leg at a time. I am not sure what is waiting for me at the end (certainly not the job I had hoped for!). But, I feel secure that just as a pilgrimage unfolds one day at a time I will have to trust that life is best lived that way too.
Tomorrow it’s off to Rome. After that, who knows? But, all will be well. Of that I am convinced.