Pilgrimage 2011

One day last fall, I was talking on the phone with my mom when she put on her "serious mom voice." I instantly knew I was in trouble. As I furiously began trying to figure out what I had done wrong, I heard her say,

"I'm calling to ask you on the Pilgrimage team this year."

Oh, thank goodness. I wasn't in trouble! I hadn't been home in over three weeks, so there was no way she could have been calling to fuss at me for forgetting to hang up my bath towels again, but still... the "serious mom voice." It gets me every time.

Then it hit me. Did she just ask me to be on the Pilgrimage team?

Pilgrimage is a weekend retreat in our denomination (Church of the Brethren) held every March at Camp Bethel. My parents attended when I was in 4th grade, and ever since, Pilgrimage has been a huge part of my family's life. Both of my parents have served on the team multiple times, and my mom has been the retreat coordinator for five years now. I attended FaithQuest (the high school version of Pilgrimage) when I was in 11th grade, and every year since, I've come to camp during Pilgrimage weekend and helped out behind the scenes.

But actually being ON the team? That was a different story. Pilgrimage is for adults. And I am not an adult. I mean, technically I am. But I don't look like an adult, and I definitely don't feel like an adult. (Maybe that will change when I no longer have to ask my parents for permission to drive more than an hour from where I live, who knows?)

So I said yes. I agreed to be the Multimedia & Worship Coordinator for the weekend. And for the first time in a longgg time, I was reminded what it was like to truly be a part of a Christian community.

We've spent months planning, training, meeting, praying, singing, learning, listening, brainstorming, & emailing, and I'm so happy to say that the weekend could not have been any better. Seriously. God is so good :)

For the first time ever, over 1/4 of the participants were under the age of 30. I love not-so-adult adults that love Jesus.

I also love real adults that love Jesus :)

Multimedia & Worship Coordinator, Retreat Coordinator, Team Coordinator, & Music Coordinator also known as... the Pink Flamingoes

Go team, Go God!

It was such a blessing to be on the team this year & have the opportunity to use my talents & gifts to serve Him. The entire experience was a much needed reminder that we're all just a hot mess & none of us have to go through this life alone. I was, and still am, so touched by the openness and vulnerability expressed by each participant.

During the closing, one of the participants who has been before turned to her husband who came for the first time this year & said, "This is what I fell in love with!" I can't think of a better way to express it. It's what Christianity is supposed to be like. Nobody cared about my GPA or where I was interning this summer or the mistakes I've made in the past or what I plan on doing with my life after college. They just loved me. Simple as that. They loved me & they loved God and that love was so evident in every word, every action the entire weekend. I wish I could take everyone I knew to Pilgrimage & tell them that "this is what I fell in love with! This is what Christianity is supposed to be like."

And I can. I may not be able to drag everyone I know to a weekend retreat, but I most certainly can show them what Christianity is supposed to be like through my actions. The affirmation letters I received from my friends at Duke confirmed that. I don't have a group of Bible-reading, daily-praying active Christian friends at Duke. I tried Campus Crusade my freshman year & frankly, I hated it. I hated the "we love Jesus so our lives are perfect" perception they gave of Christianity. My friends at Duke come from all different types of backgrounds & religions: a majority of them are agnostic. Yet in their letters, they told me that I've shown them "how to open [their] heart in ways that [they] simply cannot describe" and that I am "a person that makes [them] want to continue questioning and growing in [their] faith and respect Christianity as a whole." What more could I possibly ask for?

I am so blessed to have found such an amazing group of friends that strengthen my faith & show me the beauty in the world without even intending to do so. Friends (and family) that accept me for the hot mess that I am. They don't try to change me. They don't judge me. They simply love me. Just like God simply loves me -- no strings attached.