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pilgrimage | a song of ascent

I was glad when they said to me,
    "Let us go to the house of the LORD."
Our feet are standing
    Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, that is built
    As a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD-
    An ordinance for Israel-
    To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For there thrones were set for judgment,
    The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    "May they prosper who love you.
"May peace be within your walls,
    And prosperity within your palaces."
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
    I will now say, "May peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
    I will seek your good.
    --Psalm 121
So let us go to the City of Ashes. So close is she in mind that it feels as though I'm standing within her gates already, though I know she is far off in mountains unseen. I lift up my eyes to those mountains, for from there shall come my peace. At least that is my prayer. This morning when I left the church after Mass, the clouds piled on the horizon took the tantalizing shape of the Blue Ridge Mountains. What song the Syrens sang is not at all beyond conjecture to me, it is the song of home, and the mountains have been singing to me their syren song from far across the Mississippi. It is to her that I go up, I make my pilgrimage. I have gone There; now I go Back again.


This place where I have been is good; it is a homely house with good men doing good things. But during my days here, I keep walking through and around my City of Ashes, counting her towers, reviewing her ramparts--to think of her, my heart sings and plays haunting tunes on bone flutes singing, "All my springs of joy are in you." That is why I am leaving such a fine and holy place. Because everyone has their sacred place, that place where they will find and know God--the omphalos is no single place on the globe, it is where your heart is, or rather the place that serves as your gate from the Here to the Beyond, from Time to Eternity, for your heart. So I will walk through deserts and trackless wastes, such as they might be, I will cross the mighty Mississippi to reach her, to reach home.

Pax.


So this will likely be my last post for about a month. I leave in a little less than two hours and then I don't figure on having any access to the internet until I reach home. But it is my plan to keep a hand-written day-by-day account and rewrite that upon returning, posting a new entry corresponding to each day after my return. May you all be blessed and grace-filled in that time; and I hope to have many a tale to tell in April, when the sweet showers fall.

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