The Journey to Cape Town: Holy Excursions and Divine Detours

Day 0: Rev. Zack's Reflection

"Be careful what you pray for."
"Practice what you preach" 

Inasmuch as these old adages ring true, I should have known better than to deliver a sermon about the holiness of unexpected detours and God's promise that no one gets left behind before leaving for pilgrimage to South Africa on Wednesday morning. Naturally, a delay in Atlanta cause us to miss a connecting flight from Boston to Amsterdam on KLM, setting us back an entire day. When I emailed the staff at All Saints' with an update, our communications staffer and veteran pilgrim Lisa Bell-Davis replied, "Oh my gosh, y'all have jumped right into the labyrinth!" 

Lisa's response invokes the sacred journey guru, Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage, a foundational and formational text for All Saints' parish. In it, he outlines te eight archetypal phases of pilgrimage: the longing, the call, the departure, the pilgrim's way, the labyrinth, the arrival, and bringing home the boon. The labyrinth, often associated with mid-pilgrimage frustration, refers to winding path of a symbolic pilgrimage that originally acted as a local substitute for unable to afford or physically endure a trip to the holy city Jerusalem during the middle ages. Still today, the labyrinth is a powerful metaphor for an inward journey to the center of our souls. The labyrinth poses an invitation to search our hearts and to lay our burdens in the center of the circle, submitting our lives to God's healing graces before journeying back into the world with a clearer mind and renewed spirit. We indeed jumped right in!

I was incredibly impressed by and grateful for the response of all our youth and adult pilgrims.  Despite an airport sprint, annoyances and miscommunications on the part of the airlines, and the general fatigue of traveling, they kept their cool and were amazingly cooperative and gracious towards one another during the entire 48+ hours of traveling.  I have a hunch that it may have been because of our spiritual preparation - manifest most concretely in our decision to travel light.  Each pilgrim was challenged to keep their luggage to a total of 30 pounds (the technical international limit for carry-on baggage).  This would allow us to quickly proceed onward during what we knew would be quick terminal changes (even without the delay).  More importantly, it was an opportunity to practice Jesus' teaching  in Luke 10,  when he instructs his pilgrim-disciples to "not take a bag or sandals" as they enter a new city.  And we thought TSA was extreme!

With that, the pilgrims went home to watch YouTube videos about efficient packaging while channeling their inner Marie Kondo.  And then they showed up - with their whole selves - ready for the journey ahead.  As I shared in our devotion, Jesus never promises us that this Way will be easy.  But it will be worth it.  Each of the pilgrims gave up something to be present:  graduation parties, time with loved ones, favorite foods, and the comfort of home.  Every pilgrim is called to let go of something. As we press onward toward Cape Town, I pray that we will each have the grace to believe that maybe, just maybe, Christ has called us here.  Wherever you are on your pilgrimage of faith, I pray the same for you, trusting that the One who calls is faithful to provide more than we can ask or imagine.  And when it comes time to practice what we preach, I dare us to believe it.  

The Rev. Zack Nyein

Day 0: Karla's Reflection

Day 0: CJ Maurer's Reflection

Currently I am flying over the Atlantic Ocean, on the way to my layover in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I am also currently flying to Cape Town, South Africa for a journey of a lifetime. Pilgrimage! this was something I’ve been looking forward to since I started going to All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta. today, I spent the majority of my time in the waiting on our flight in the Boston airport. Even though it was a seven hour wait, it was very fun. I became closer with Natalie and Liv, two people who I didn’t expect to even be friends with if I’m being completely honest. Our time in the Boston airport in the last two days has been very hectic, but at the same time very fun. Despite the consistent traveling through terminals A and E, I as well as the others on the trip maintained a stable and positive attitude, something I normally wouldn’t have. I don’t exactly know what came over me, but I found the fact that we missed our flight comical instead of a huge dent in our trip. Pilgrimage is an adventure, right?  An unpredictable, crazy, fascinating adventure. As I’m writing this, i’m on my flight, (I think I already said that but it’s alright I’m tired) listening to my throwback playlist (all the good childhood pop songs, from Britney, to Fergie, to Miranda Cosgrove), and trying to fall asleep, but I just can’t. Which is why i’m writing this. I’m overcome with so many happy emotions right now, even though I could be looking at my impending eleven hour flight with the glass half empty, I’m taking the positive route. either way, I’m looking forward to the future of pilgrimage and the adventures we continue to have as our bonds grow stronger as a group! Much love, and hopefully some sleep for me. 


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