One of my favorite features at Sick Pilgrim is the monthly “Things Keeping Us Alive” post. A handful of people in the Sick Pilgrim community give me the names of what gives them a little bit of joy. What they write about can be very high-brow: a new icon, prayer, lecture, or book that causes them to connect to God or evaluate life in a whole new way; or they can be extremely low-brow (my favorite): things not necessarily remarkable or holy but which bring us joy unapologetically.
- Dark on Netflix. This engrossing show from Germany is incredible and worth your time. If the film Donnie Darko and a much more mature version of the series Stranger Things had an English-dubbed, German-speaking baby, this would be it. I most appreciate this show’s rare claim that events are set and cannot be changed, regardless of a time-traveler’s actions. Whether this is because of the power of fate, predestination, or God is unclear; the concept that people are pawns to a set turn of events is at the same time extremely morose and refreshingly unburdening.
The Sick Pilgrim blog has undergone a great deal of turmoil in November, and as a result the administrative team has shifted dramatically. And our founder, Jessica Mesman Griffith, has taken a much-needed break from the blogosphere since then. I am ecstatic to announce that she is returning from her sabbatical next month, filling the void in the blog left by her absence; one which I and the other admins tried half-assedly to fill.
From her time in the wilderness, with clothes smelling of horsehair and her breath of honey and insects, she declared her new vision for Sick Pilgrim, which is really more clarifying than novel. Admins of the blog always waffled uncomfortably when trying to define it: Is Sick Pilgrim a “mission” and/or a “movement?” If we are, why do those terms make me want to run away as fast as I can, scratching out my eyes and screaming “Cult!”
Now our headmistress Jessica has a new word for Sick Pilgrim. “A collective.” That’s brilliant; no longer do we have to bask in some false light of Catholic authority or even Christian authority. Sick Pilgrim is a collective of individuals, mostly Catholic, seeking beauty and truth through art, writing, reflecting on the sanctity of God and the Church, or wrestling with God or the Church. The shift is slight, really; instead of focusing on doctrinal soundness and whether we argue for or against something politically or theologically, the blog gravitates towards the blog’s readers and writers, and what kinds of art or beauty they are producing to make the world more intelligent, more loving, more holy.
- SparkHope. I graduated grad school in counseling in 2010. A year after that, I had moved to three different cities, but failed to find a job in my degree– counseling. My dad offered me a job at my family’s business working as the social media manager. So with the convenience of having a house next door to my workplace, and the slow progression of my genetic disability, I gave up on the dream of ever working in my field, counseling. In the past year, I’ve connected with many other people with my same rare genetic disorder around the world. One fellow FAer, Jean from Massachusetts, is a graduate of social work with a crazy idea. I love crazy ideas. Equally important to researching a rare genetic disorder (or moreso) is having the skills to endure life in the present moment. Jean and I are going to retool her company SparkHope from a fundraising organization to one that offers counseling to those with rare, debilitating disorders. And there is something profound about the counseling being offered by two people trained in counseling, who also have a rare disorder. We hope to do it via webcam, so we can have clients anywhere in the world. This is an amazing opportunity for me to finally pursue licensure and to use my fate-given circumstances to help make the world a tiny bit more loving.
I gratefully and with relief turn the editorial reins of the blog back to Jessica. I apologize to the rest of the admin team who had to endure my chaotic leadership. I look forward to returning to my niche as an occasional writer and poster of the Things Keeping Us Alive and even my occasional letter.
Sick Pilgrim is only getting better.