Day 30 of Pilgrimage – 55k east of Bendigo on the way to Wangaratta

Friday 18 September

By the end of today I will have completed 300k and find myself ‘virtually’ only 150k away (or 15 days!) from Holy Trinity Cathedral, Wangaratta. All being well I aim to arrive on Saturday 2 October.

Just to show faith – here is a screen shot of my phone showing my walking from 10 -16 September:

Since we have been able to exercise for two hours outside per day in Melbourne – it has been easier to do the 10k in basically one hit, rather than over the course of the day and in fact I am averaging a little more than 10k each day. Thank you again to all who have donated money for the pilgrimage – over $1300 so far – fantastic effort.

While walking I have reflected upon the reading I have been doing lately. Janet and I are working our way through Joan Chittister’s  book on the Rule of Benedict as part of our morning prayer. I offer the following quote from page 21 of Joan’s book as worthy of reflection and pondering:

The spiritual life is not something that is gotten for the wishing or assumed by affection.  The spiritual life takes discipline. It is something to be learned, to be internalised. It’s not a set of daily exercises; it’s a way of life, an attitude of mind, an orientation of soul. And it is gotten by being schooled until no rules are necessary. Among the ancients there is a story told that confirms this insight to this day – ‘What action shall I perform to attain God?’ the disciple asked the elder. ‘If you wish to attain God,’ the elder said, ‘there are two things you must know. The first is that all efforts to attain God are of no avail.’ ‘And the second?’ the disciple insisted. ‘The second is that you must act as if you did not know the first,’ the elder said. Clearly, great pursuers of the spiritual life know that the secret of the spiritual life is to live it until it becomes real.

We have also been reflecting upon the lives of the Holy men and women of the faith who have gone before us. On Wednesday 15 September the Episcopal Church of the United States of America remembered the life of James Chisholm, Priest. In our own context of COVID-19 his story resonated with me.

James Chisholm was the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. In 1855, an aggressive yellow fever epidemic swept through Virginia. Many of the region’s wealthy citizens were able to escape the area to avoid exposure and contamination. In most cases the physicians and clergy who served them departed as well. This left the area’s poor bereft of doctors, caregivers and, in some cases, the basic provisions of food and water to sustain life. James Chisholm sent his family away to safety, staying behind to provide whatever care for the sick he could. As the ravages of the plague were beginning to subside, Chisholm, weary to the point of exhaustion from his faithful priestly service, contacted the yellow fever and died. An account of Chisholm’s sacrifice, written only months after his death, marvels at the inner strength that Chisholm discovered that enabled him to stay behind and serve the people many of whom were waiting to die. Before the crisis, Chisholm was not thought of as a particularly strong man in body, and was described as having been retiring to the point of bashfulness, delicate, weak, and lacking much fortitude. When faced, however, with the call of these priestly duties in the face of great hardship, Chisholm showed a strength and courage few knew he possessed.

As we all journey together through our own pandemic, may we be found to be people of God full of strength and courage ready to serve others in their time of great need.

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