Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 

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Day Twenty-Two

Pilgrims' Way

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

Happy are the people whose strength is in you!
Whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.
—Psalm 84:1

In the first generations of Christianity, before it was known by that name, the faithful who began to follow the Risen Christ spoke of the Way. (Acts 9:2)  From the beginning, followers knew that a call had been offered to walk as companions, trying to practice what Jesus had taught and lived. Those early Christians also understood that life itself is a journey, a pilgrimage, a way to be walked.

So, too, with illness. We walk a way, a pilgrimage, in our living with a physical or mental condition. Any of you who have made a walking trip or had the experience of a walking pilgrimage know that companions help us keep going. Rhythms of conversation and silence form community. Shared experience and memory bind us together.

As you make your own pilgrimage with illness, give thanks for those who walk with you. These may be friends who never miss a step. Or they may be companions for a day who appear suddenly in a waiting room or a treatment center. They may be others who live with the same illness that you do.

Our inner strength is confirmed and renewed by our pilgrim companions—those whose presence enlivens our journey, even when we are gravely ill. Our inner strength is blessed and upheld by Christ in his many different disguises as he walks with us, accompanying us through those companions on our way.

As I walk this pilgrim path through illness, grant me, O Christ, companions for the journey. And may I be a companion to others in return, remembering that by sharing our life and our experience, we lean on your strength abiding in one another. Amen.


Practice: <listen>

Give thanks for those companions on the path of living with illness who have walked with you along the way: those who are steady friends, those who have appeared when you needed them, those who have handed on wisdom for living with your particular illness, those who have given you hope, those who have prayed for you from afar. Then pray for all those who live with your particular illness, and who may not have companions for their journey.

Reference Note: All  psalms are taken from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.