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Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Pilgrimage, A Walk, A Pledge

Soon it’s time for me to embark on my latest challenge. A group of women from the American Church in Paris have decided to take a walk to Chartres Cathedral as part of a spiritual pilgrimage that follows the Way of St. James. Perhaps you are familiar with the Camino De Santiago in Spain. if you’ve seen the film, The Way, this is what we’re talking about. The Chemin of Sainte Jacques in France allows folks to go on a pilgrimage to the magnificent Chartres Cathedral from Paris. Walking the Camino de Santiago has been something that Doug and I have been interested in since a good friend did it a few years back and our colleague here at ACP also just did it over the summer. That requires a bit of planning and significant training as it is about 800 kilometers walked over about a month! This walk from Paris to Chartres is about 100 kilometers and we will journey across 5 days to achieve our goal. I was asked to join the group as a fellowship traveler but also to provide a pastoral presence on the journey.
I am excited and a bit a nervous too. I am nervous because of the significant physical challenges I’ve encountered of late with my hip. But trips to various doctors, new custom built shoe inserts, and regular appointments with a physical therapist have bolstered my confidence in my ability to be more physically ready for this challenge. Of course, I have no idea what awaits me as I embark on this new and inviting challenge with 8 other women. I’m confident that I will encounter God along the chemin (way in French) and I am also confident that things unknown to me today will challenge and encourage me.
As I considered this walk, I was drawn to the link between my ability to do this walk and the significant work that ACP is doing right now to install a lift and lavatory that will make ACP wheelchair accessible. This is an important step for the church to take but as many of you know, often doing something like this, while the right thing, is also an expensive thing. ACP has decided to move forward with the project no matter the costs and so I got to thinking about how I could perhaps raise a little money to benefit this project. Sort of like my walk for those whose walking ability is limited or not possible at all. 
This is near and dear to my heart in part because of people that I love who live life from a chair. My niece is one such person and she lives life with more courage and zeal than many others. So in that spirit, I’m asking people to sponsor me, either by one time gift or per kilometer giving, on my walk to Chartres which will take place October 31-November 4. 
I am wanting to keep this simple so am not setting up a funding page or anything like that. I simply ask that you private message me with your intention to give and I can give you fuller details then. If you know someone who doesn’t know me but would like to get on board with a gift, simply be the go between for us. There are a few ways that you can give. If you are in the US or prefer dealing in US dollars and checks, then you will be able to write a tax-deductible check to the American and Foreign Christian Union, which is linked to the ministry of ACP and through which funding from the US for various projects is funneled. If you are in Europe, I can set you up with bank transfer information. 
The last really big physical challenge I worked toward was the half marathon in Nice, France back in 2015. While this will certainly represent a physical challenge of an entirely different thing, it will also be a mental and spiritual challenge as well. I look forward to all that will unfold on this journey. It adds meaning for me to be able to walk on behalf of a project for our church that I know embraces the Kingdom of God value that ALL are welcome here. It’s easy to say and it’s hard to put into practice sometimes. So I am grateful for the money, sweat and tears (ever try to get permits and constructions done in France? It causes tears!) that the church is committed to giving. If you are moved to give toward this project through sponsoring my journey/pilgrimage, I would be forever grateful. A woman who will meet us in Chartres states this in a book she’s written about pilgrimage to Chartres: “Each pilgrimage is unique, each pilgrim travels differently.” This prayer is meaningful as I embark on my own, unique pilgrimage: “On the way, God, may the gratitude that rises from the spring of love flow ever more strongly, and thus widely. May it be more so.” 

Thank you for your interest and support. If money isn’t something you can give, please pray for me and my on-going preparations and for ACP, to be the place of open, wide doors it longs to be.