I’m so excited to say that I leave for my pilgrimage in just a couple of weeks. I honestly still can’t believe I’m going. If it weren’t for my husband’s suggestion and encouragement, I would never have even thought of taking a trip like this–at least not in this stage of my life. I seriously have the most considerate husband on the planet.
How did the trip come about? Months ago, Joe informed me that he had a couple of big work trips come up that would take him out of the country again. (One trip to India, one to Australia). We engaged in a familiar conversation, which once again had me working hard to hide my jealousy and swallow any sign of resentment. I mean, it’s his job after all. I am incredibly thankful for all his hard work, and that he has a great job to support our family. It’s also pretty amazing that he gets opportunities to travel the world once and a while. However, when the really big trips come up I have to fight against having the “I wish I could do that” look in my eyes.
This last time around, I think I took the news quite well! I had a hard time when he left for his first big trip (to Tokyo), primarily because Lucy was still so little. But now that we are in a good family groove, the news was a lot easier to take. We left our conversation about the matter on a good note, so it was big surprise when he came to me the next morning telling me that he thought I should go to Italy. I was quite shocked.
What?! Where did that come from? Me? Got to Italy? What about the kids? What about your work? What about the cost, and the time away, and the fact that I have never traveled alone to another country by myself?? What about the fact that these kids need me! What ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
But he was dead serious. He explained how he thought it was important for me to go because it has been a dream of mine since before we were dating. He told me that now is a good time, before our family begins growing again (God willing). He told me that I needed to have this for myself, and assured me that everything would be fine and taken care of on the home front.
I couldn’t believe it.
Since he caught me so off guard, it took me a good couple of months and a lot of prayer to actually decide to go. I had so much anxiety and fear of leaving my babies behind. I also felt incredibly guilty about doing something so amazing without my family. I thought the decision to go would make me selfish and a bad mom. How could I leave my babies? How could I leave all this behind for my husband to take care of on his own?
After A LOT of prayer and deliberation with people, especially other moms I respect and admire, I felt closer to saying yes to the whole idea. But I needed God’s help. I prayed that he would help me make the decision because it was too much for me to make on my own.
And he did!
The day after I prayed that prayer, I spoke with one of the women in need of a roomate for the pilgrimage. She was also trying to decide if she should go, and her decision hung on whether or not she could find a roommate. The only thing, she told me, was that she needed to know by the next morning, because if she couldn’t find one she planned to go on a cruise with her friends. She had to know the next day because that was the deadline for the cruise her friends were going on.
Her deadline made the decision for me. We both decided, I’ll go if you’ll go.
Though I am extremely nervous to leave, I am so glad I decided to go. Since God answered my prayer so immediately and so clearly, it changed from feeling like an opportunity, to that of a calling. Our faith—our beautiful, rich, Catholic faith–is steeped in tradition, and I am so thankful that God is calling me to travel on this spiritual pilgrimage to Rome to experience that tradition on a whole new level.
A pilgrimage is very different than a vacation because it is a journey made with the purpose of honoring God. As I gather all the prayers of my family and friends, the reality of honoring God with my trip becomes all the more clear. I get to take their prayers along with me and offer them up at all the holy places in Rome. When I visit the tombs of so many holy men and women who fully lived the faith, I get to ask them to pray for my loved ones. In that way I get to experience the community of faith (both here and in heaven) in a way that is so new to me, yet so familiar because that is what our faith is built upon; it is a tangible, sacramental faith built upon a rich history and tradition that leads us to Christ himself.
Though I am scared and nervous to leave, I have high hopes that God will bless me on this journey, strengthen my Catholic faith, and bless those prayers that I bring along with me.
Please pray for me and I’d love to pray for you! If you have any intentions you’d like me to take with me, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can pray for you in Rome!