Today I take off on my trip and feel deeply grateful. I remember back to the end of March when I retired. Our school staff and my nursing colleagues honored me and later there was another party with friends. What I didn’t expect was a surprise party given by my family. I was shocked and speechless– a rare state for me. When I learned that my younger son had set up a Go Fund Me page for my travel, I was totally overwhelmed. All I could say was, “But I’m not having a transplant!”
He wanted to make it easy for family and friends to donate toward the travel I’d dreamed of– a trip to Europe with my husband followed by my pilgrimage to Iona. Now I think of all those who’ve given money, encouragement, prayers, and advice to help with this journey.
I’m praying for God’s protection as we travel and for my family back home. I feel a tug at leaving Mama, ninety-four and in the nursing home. It’s always a bittersweet time when I tell her “bye” at the end of a visit. She doesn’t understand where I’m going or how long I’ll be gone. While physically she’s pretty healthy for her age, I know that one day when I tell her bye, it’ll be for the last time. It always gives me pause when I hug and kiss her, look back at her sitting in her wheelchair, and tell myself it’s time to leave.
When I started working on travel plans, I was concerned about leaving Madison. At over thirteen-years-old, I knew she could have problems. After a sudden illness, she died in July– while I was home. I’ve missed my sweet dog; the clicking of her paws on our wooden floor, her excitement when we made popcorn and she heard the pinging against the lid of the pot, taking walks with her gracefully prancing like a young girl. At least I don’t have to worry about her while we’re away.
Last Sunday I attended my church, Duke University Chapel, and after receiving the sacraments of communion, I stepped into the small memorial chapel to dedicate my trip. Lighting a candle, I was reminded of doing the same thing at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona. On that first solo journey, I prayed about moving forward from cancer and the toxic job. Sixteen years later, I watched the flame from the votive and prayed for my travel with my husband and pilgrimage to Iona.
I knelt at the altar and our minister annointed me with oil and placed his hand on my shoulder. While he prayed over me, the choir was singing and the pipe organ filled that gothic space, a crescendo of blessing. In that moment, I felt like part of the church universal, joining with pilgrims from ancient times receiving a blessing for the journey.
My heart is full as I depart, thinking of all who have ‘funded’ me with bountiful gifts from my community of support; family and friends who’ve contributed money for my travel, those who’ve offered travel advice and cautions; a Pinterest board created to help us enjoy Paris; a floral umbrella to cover me during the UK rain; a multi-colored scarf to keep me warm and remember friendships; a picture book of the Hebrides to enjoy the islands even before I arrive; journals to record my thoughts and feelings.
I think of my Go Fund Me community of support, and while I’m not having a medical crisis, I have been blessed by accepting these gifts from the people in my path.
I go forth in Peace.
How About You?
Have you been the recipient of the gifts from a community of support?
How did that change your life?
What are gifts that you provide to others?/