Monday, September 16, 2013

Pilgrimage and Jubilee

"Pilgrimage and Jubilee"
by Virginia Knowles

It’s been a long road
And I’ve traveled the valley of the shadow.
But I write as a free woman
Still with earthy bonds, yes
But able to rise above and go beyond.

We are called to the dignity
Of the Image of God.
We are called to walk the path 
Of peace and glory.
We are called to hear the holy echo:
"Proclaim liberty throughout the land!"
So let us rise, strong and free.

Mine is the story of pilgrimage and jubilee.

Several things inspired me to begin this poem in my journal yesterday.  I wrote much more, but pruned away to uncover the lines above.

One: I mentioned in a recent post that I planned to start a series called Pilgrimage and Jubilee as a memoir of my fifty years of life thus far.  Pilgrimage, because life is a journey, for me a spiritual one. ("Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baka {Tears}, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7) Jubilee because that is the word for the celebration of liberty every fifty years in the Hebrew culture. ("And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  It shall be a jubilee for you.." Leviticus 25:10.)  I have been pairing these words for several years, ever since my Midlife Reckoning. I even used them in my poem This Is My Song and I Sing. The picture is one of me as a newborn, with my sweet mother, who passed away this summer. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for her, would I?

Two: My middle school students have been reading the novel Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates.  It is based on the true story of a slave who makes a sturdy and productive life for himself in 1700's New England, eventually purchasing freedom for himself and for three women, whom he also marries. (One at a time, of course. The first two didn't live that long in liberty, but each died as a free woman.) I may never have been in that kind of bondage, but we have all been held captive by something or other, haven't we?  Many times it is our own acquiescence and denial of what is happening in our lives.  We are often reluctant to  insist on anything better.  We are called to more. 

Three:  Four of my adult daughters invited several of my dear friends to celebrate my five decades of life with us yesterday afternoon.  These ladies have walked this long road with me, some of them for ten or twenty years.  I am ever grateful for their companionship and support during some of the more challenging seasons of life. After a few of the ladies had to leave early, we figured we'd better get a group photo of the rest of us.  They perched me on a stool, and I guess I had my legs tucked up under my billowy skirt.  I couldn't stop laughing when I saw this picture, because it looks like I'm standing on peg legs. That would presumably make my life journey a bit more difficult. 

Four: This birthday card from my sister Barb. It is from Trader Joe's, and reads: "Tell your story. Believe in healing. Honor your intuition. Take the journey back to yourself. Wear more skirts. Begin today. Embrace vulnerability. Do the things you didn't think you could. Quiet the inner critic." Amen to that, sister! On the inside, she wrote: "I bought this card for myself (true confession!) but then I decided that it epitomizes you so well that I have to be selfless and send it to you.  You're welcome." She did ask that I send her a picture of it. Here it is, Barb! You're welcome!

Five: This poster on my wall, which I bought this summer while visiting my mother in Maryland. I had gone to the Christian bookstore to find something to hang in her hospital room and found this one for myself, too.  And my Mom was cheering me on to better days, even in her last words to me.

Six: I made a new friend yesterday at church.  She is from the Ukraine.  Her name is Miraslava, which she explained is the two words peace and glory. I love that, and it seemed to embody her personality in the few minutes I spoke with her. Wouldn't you like to be named Peace Glory?  Certainly better than Strife Shame! God calls us his Beloved.

Seven:  The phrase, "hear a holy echo" is from a comment that Sandra Heska King left on one of my blog posts a while back.  I tucked it away on my iPod and came across it again last night. Yes, I do love your comments, so.... leave one! How has your life reflected pilgrimage and jubilee?

Finally, some related posts I think you'll like:
Peace and glory,
Virginia Knowles

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