12th century Chapel of St. Odhran near the Abbey of Iona.
Midway through our retreat during the Pilgrimage for Change, our group participated in a walking pilgrimage around the tiny Isle of Iona. Philip Newell brought us to the crossroads and his question still echo’s in my ear: “who now will you stand with?”
As we continued on to Columba’s Bay, I cried as I felt a deep call to stand with those on the margins. To follow Christ among those who have been ostracized, pushed out, and left behind. To speak up on their behalf and stand in solidarity with their suffering. Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself. We need them for our own conversion.”
As I reflect on my own journey, it seems clear to me that the places where I’ve felt the most shame, guilt, anger, or frustration have brought about the most restoration, redemption and renewal. Where I have been weak, Christ has been strong. The stone that the builder rejected has become the cornerstone. Fr. Gregory Boyle sums it up like this, “Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.” As I’ve found Christ to have compassion for me, I seek to have compassion for others. And this compassion feels like a deep call to move towards the margins of the church, society, and culture.
As with most shifts in one’s life, this feels really big, a little grandiose, and I’m not even sure what it all looks like. Either way, the Poor Pilgrim Blog will be a place to bring these reflections and stories to the surface. Thanks for reading.