Some people sit in airports and watch people. Some do it at sports events or family reunions or the mall.
I people watch on pilgrimage.
My favorite group of people to watch are the young people. Parents, send your sons and daughters on pilgrimage. Things happen–amazing things happen–in their souls.
I can see them changing. I don’t know what God’s grace is calling them to do or become, but they hear the call. And it is fascinating to watch them hear it, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
At dinner tonight, I asked a young gal on our pilgrimage where she would go on her next pilgrimage. She hadn’t even thought about it, she said. This was the first time she had ever done anything like this. Her first international flight. Her first trip without family. Her first pilgrimage.
But she is coming alive. I can see it. So I asked the question another way. “Which Marian image are you drawn to.” And now I got a different answer. A deep answer. She described an image of Mary which we had seen in a church the day before–she described how it made her feel.
It was the image of Our Lady of Fatima.
That’s her next pilgrimage, I think. She will be called to Fatima next.
Then there are the two sisters in their early twenties. One sister said she was going to Poland and invited her other sister to go along. Either way, the first one knew she was being called.
I talked to the tag-along sis today. “You know,” I told her, “often the one that is to receive the greater grace is the one standing behind another person, the one invited to come along. It’s like Jesus peeks His head around and crooks His finger to that one. He winks, and makes the gesture to come. You point to yourself as if to say ‘me?’ and He nods.”
She knew what I met and began telling me about her week. Yes, sometimes God calls us through the invitation of another person. Sometimes a sister asks us to tag along, but it is really God saying, “Come, follow Me.”
There is a young man that is the outdoorsy kind of guy, a young JPII. I tried to run up one of the Tatra Mountains with him yesterday. He was kind enough to keep my pace. Then I told him to run ahead. He could reach the top before we had to go back. I would catch my breath and get a few pictures. Maybe he will marry a great girl. Maybe he will become another Karol Wojtyla.
And then there’s the young man with the Green Bay Packers hat. He says he doesn’t think he has a vocation to the priesthood. That was the vocation his brother discerned, but he carries a Rosary and prays a lot of the time, and I swear I heard him praying in the seat behind me after the rest of us finished a collective Rosary. If he doesn’t have a vocation to the priesthood, he sure does have a pastoral side to him.
Yes, I watch everyone. Pilgrims of all ages. But the ones that fascinate me the most are the young twenty-somethings. They are ready. Ripe for the sending.
Social justice work.
And you can almost see grace in action. They may think their lives are cluttered, and they can’t hear the voice of God like the moms and pops and grandparent-aged folks on the pilgrimage.
But they would be wrong.
Jesus is bending His finger and calling them to follow. Pilgrimage is like that. It is most like that for them. And I wonder what it would be like to be that young and that open to the Holy Spirit.
They were made for pilgrimage.
“So where are you going on pilgrimage next? If you listen closely, you can hear the Lord calling.”