A Pilgrim's Journey
By: Catriona Morton
A journey is a very common motif that many texts use to portray the passing of time. As a person of faith, this motif has a special significance in my life. I see my life as a journey that has been impacted by many signposts along the way. The words on these signs have been found in books and songs and have profoundly shaped my journey. The power of words in narrative, scripture, and song has inspired, comforted and shaped my identity as a pilgrim.
Written words spun into stories have had a great impact on my life. My bedtime routine as a child included my mom reading stories to my sister and me. The sound of her voice gave me a sense of security, comfort and peace. As I drifted into sleep, those words entered into my mind painting pictures of distant lands. The vast prairies depicted in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie for example, became a place that I not only wanted to see in my dreams, but in reality. Laura’s journey became a reference point for me when I moved from Toronto to Calgary. The values of family loyalty, love and adventure expressed in her travels has given me hope in mine. As I grew older, the biography of Helen Roseveare, a doctor in the Congo, has shaped my dreams for the future. In her story, she overcame great odds to serve the people of the Congo by treating their physical needs and this has inspired me to do the same. As I removed jiggers from the feet of children in Uganda, I saw a glimpse of Helen Roseveare’s own life and was excited. Her moving story sets an example for what I might hope to accomplish as a nurse.
The words in the world’s best-selling book, the Bible, contain pieces of wisdom that have been extremely influential in my life. Throughout Scripture, there are many passages that give me assurance and shape my identity as a believer. Believers are described as treasured possessions, adopted sons and daughters of God, and witnesses for Him. To know how God sees me helps me understand who I really am in God’s eyes and how I should see myself. For everyone, there are times in life where an individual’s circumstances are difficult. In Philippians 3:14 it says “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This has encouraged me through my walk of faith. The writer’s image of a race has inspired me to keep on running even through the difficult things that happen in my life. Another passage that has comforted me is found in Hebrews 11. The writer describes that those who live by faith long for a heavenly home because they know that their home on earth is temporary. When I left many friends behind in Uganda and didn’t know when I would see them again, these words gave me hope. This passage inspires me to continue on in the race toward my heavenly home.
Setting words to music often enhances their meaning to me. During my time in Uganda, I had the opportunity to be part of a music group and it became an important part of my identity. The songs that we sang in that group often would be sung in two languages-English and Luganda. The unique blend of two different languages allowed the musical part of Ugandan culture to become part of who I am. The words of songs have also comforted me during times of grief. When a little girl who had many disabilities died, one of my first responses was to turn to words in music for comfort. Shortly after, I wrote in a blog post “I start to sing and I think about Carol. Because Bless the Lord is Carol’s song and everything in it reminds me of her…. her ten thousand years and forever have begun.” Songs have also helped me persevere through life. Lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman’s Long Road Home had a large impact on my life as I have traveled to many places around the world. I identified strongly with the pilgrim theme of this song. Through the mountains and valleys of that journey, this song has encouraged me to persevere through all that life brings.
Through the narratives read, Scriptures studied, and songs sung, words have had a major impact on my life. These texts have comforted and inspired me as I have walked through changes and challenges in my life. They have shaped my identity not only as a child of God, but also as one who loves adventure. Ultimately, these texts have played an important role in reminding me to persevere on the pilgrimage toward my final destination.