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Destination: Oklahoma City, Seattle, Ireland

by Kayce Stevens Hughlett

“Our souls rise up from our earth like Jacob waking from his dream and exclaiming “Truly God is in this place and I knew it not!”  God becomes the only reality, in whom all other reality takes its proper place – and falls into insignificance.”  Thomas Merton


Cliffs of MoherMost days I want to pinch myself and ask, Is this my life?  It is full and vibrant.  Steady and (some would say) boring.  I travel.  I work.  I rest.  I eat and sleep and play.  I experience ups and downs and get lost along the way.  I go away and return again.  I live in the light and dwell in the shadow.  It is special and extraordinary and most often rather ordinary. Still...

Truly Something-Greater-than-I is in this place.  Surely I have awakened from a night – from a lifetime – of wrestling.  I am so awake I can hardly believe it.  The path of life beckons each day and I am excited.  I am preparing to go on a pilgrimage to Ireland.  I stop to realize, it is not about the destination. Life is a pilgrimage –  a journey each day.

When I listen closely, I understand. I am awake and 'surely God is in this place and I knew it not.'  Last week I went to Oklahoma City for a few days.  I visited my childhood home and as I was preparing to leave, my friend said, “Now, onto the real adventure.”  She meant Ireland, of course.  Internally I felt a resounding “No!”  Every day is an adventure.  Sometimes we go more distant places and other times we don’t even leave home.

My trip to OKC was an exciting adventure. I loved it and I loved yesterday spent discovering my 'normal' surroundings... Getting up early, knowing I could rest later in the day.  What a gift to have a pilgrimage throughout an “ordinary” day.  Not knowing what is around the next corner.  A lovely meal – two actually – cooked by the side of the man I love.  My daughter opening up and pouring out her frustrations – sharing her tears over a movie – laughing unabashedly.  It is a gift witnessing the paradox that is a teenage woman. The day continued… Lying on the couch with a purring fluff-ball of a cat.  Visiting an art gallery and weeping over the words of an artist.  How can anyone say yesterday was not a pilgrimage – not a time of meaning?

I am looking forward to Ireland and gently preparing for my time there.  Many have asked “why are you going?” and I find myself pondering, What do I want from my time in Ireland?

I want to place my toes in the cool morning dew – in the layers and layers of green rolling hills.  I want to stand beside the ancient rocks and feel the breeze of the eternal wash over me.  I want to stand on a cliff over the crashing sea and feel as if I could leap and take flight.  I want to sit in a pub and listen to the strains of Irish song.  I want to drink a pint or two or three and laugh until my side aches with friends I have not yet made and those I already adore.  I want to sit in the quiet of a cathedral and listen to the silence.  I want to drive in the country and get lost knowing I am never really lost.  I want to leave room for surprise – lots of surprise!

I want to prepare, but I don’t want to schedule surprise out.  Leaving room – making space. Surely God is in this place. Surely each day is a pilgrimage unto itself. How do you prepare for pilgrimage?  Where will  you journey today?


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