Monday of the fifth week of Lent, 2023

    March 27, 2023

    As I prayed with today’s readings — the disturbing story of Susanna in the Book of Daniel, the all-too-familiar words of Psalm 23, and Jesus’ challenging the Pharisees in John’s Gospel — I asked God for help in seeing what God wants to show me in these stories. The piece that caught my attention is the word walk.

    I recently went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome with St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and there was a lot of walking. The word pilgrim is derived from the Latin word peregrinus, which means foreign. What an invitation to consider that a devotional trip to these holy places is a foreign one, strange and unfamiliar. I felt like a foreigner, for sure, but I also felt that I was making a homecoming of sorts. A stranger in the familiar sites of scripture. Both outsider and insider.
    For me, I find that much of faith is a complex mix of various feelings — outsider and insider, for example. Boredom and awe. Mundane and holy. Annoyance and revelation. Frustration and ecstasy. Stoic and hilarious. Okay, so these experiences of God don’t always happen together or in succession, but I find that the more I reflect on God’s love and the Spirit moving in my life, the more I notice that faithfulness means hanging in there with God in all my varied feelings, and perhaps most especially in the paradoxical ones.

    Take yourself on a little pilgrimage walk today if you are able. If not physically able to do so, take your imagination on a walk. Ask Jesus if you can walk with him today. Invite the Spirit to lead you on your way. Notice what God wants you to see on your walk of the body and/or mind. Is God with you if you feel trapped, like Susanna? Is your cup overflowing with goodness and kindness, as in Psalm 23? Do you feel that you are not alone, that the Father is with you, as in John’s Gospel?

    After your walk, reflect on what God showed to you, on where the Spirit led you, and on how it felt to have Jesus beside you. As we move into this fifth week of Lent, may you carry the gifts of this walk with you into your life and ministry, knowing that you are faithful, you are beloved, and you are light.

    Kelly Hickman is the Director of Development for Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. She is active in several parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle, is a member of the Seattle Chapter for Catholic Relief Services, and is Spiritual Advisor to her St. Vincent de Paul Conference.

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