Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
In medieval times many millions of people were ordered by their Bishop or Abbot to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostela or other sacred place as a penance for sin. Since they had to walk there, this disrupted their life and many died along the way. Pilgrimage was a punishment back then. Today pilgrimage is more of a means to deepen ones faith by journeying to a holy site or shrine to increase consciousness of God. As they say on the Camino of Santiago, it is about the journey, not the destination. Hence we see pilgrimage as a gift.
While living in the U.S . with all its consumer choices and temptations, we remain conscious of being pilgrims, particularly during the Lenten season.
We feel blessed to be full-fledged pilgrims, especially since retirement. It has been almost 10 years and many of our travels have been to sacred sites that have enhanced our prayer life and relationship with God. This is our 4th year traveling to Fort Myers and every year we know that God wants us to be here. Despite the consumerism, shopping, food, traffic and aggressive people – especially the drivers – we still connect and glorify in the beautiful graces we receive from the Almighty while we are living here.
We seek to live within our means in a simple and safe condo environment without having all our worldly possessions with us. Some stay in gated communities or highrises on the beach for shorter vacation periods – this makes perfect sense. As pilgrims, we seek to stay longer down here in a way we can afford and still really enjoy.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
We are surrounded here by beautiful nature that we love and revel in. For example, the spring fed lake with the palm trees, birds and fountains right out our back door. Plus all the beautiful sunrises and sunsets on Sanibel Island, Fort Myers Beach and the Cape Coral Yacht Club beach. We thoroughly enjoy the quietness and serenity of our winter environment. We are able to pray each morning, meditate and go on fabulous walks through the villas and poolsides of our neighbours.
There is one little special place we have found with a bench to pray the rosary on most days. The Lord has given us the gift of beautiful sunshine, lots of vitamin D, healthy bodies and plenty of exercise that we enjoy outside away from the cold elements of the north. We truly love the proximity to the Catholic churches, especially the Church of the Resurrection and the beautiful outdoor farmers markets, especially Lakes Park where we buy delicious organic produce every week.
Another fabulous gift we receive in Florida is more frequent contact with family and friends who we do not see as often back home. We also have met a beautiful community of friendly snow birds who are hospitable and like to socialize at the pool. Are we coming back next year? We can emphatically say yes, the Lord willing. Are we also being called to do a sacred pilgrimage on the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima? Yes. We are contemplating going to France, Spain and Portugal with the Divine Mercy group in October. Please pray for us as we discern if God is really calling us to go on this pilgrimage.
We give thanks and praise to the Lord for all we have, especially the gift of pilgrimage.
Love and Blessings,
Marie and Dave