May 20, 2015
I’m writing this blog just three days away from the last leg of my 170 mile Pilgrimage through our Diocese of Western Massachusetts. (For an exact countdown to the walk, check our website……). I’m really excited about this journey through the Berkshires and especially blessed to have my son, Geoff, and his fiancée, Brenna, with me the first two days. The itinerary can be found here.
In my anticipation of this trip, I realized that I never wrote a blog about my last trip –through the Pioneer Valley in Easter Week. Such is the pace of resurrected life in the great 50 days of the Easter Season! Here, late, are a few of the many things I learned in that walk from Greenfield to Southwick.
- St. James’ Greenfield, St. Paul’s Holyoke and Southwick Community Episcopal Church really know how to pray for a pilgrim bishop as he starts, stops and concludes a journey.
- Across the street from St. James there is a phenomenal place – Community Action Family Center – that helps young families, especially immigrants. The main need those families are experiencing right now is access to transportation. When will we do something about that in our rural communities?
- The Veterans at the VA Medical Center in Northampton have compelling stories we need to hear.
- Patrick Cahillane, the Deputy Superintendent of the Hampshire County Correctional Facility in Northampton has been on the job for 34 years. After all he has seen in those years, he still believes in the dignity of every human being and he has hope for renewal for everyone. He will inspire me for a long time.
- Richard Kos, the mayor of Chicopee, is truly a public servant.
- As I walked with fellow pilgrims through the rain, icy rain and sleet, I experienced solidarity with all those who frequently work outside under those conditions.
- The Episcopal Service Corps at Lawrence House, under the direction of The Rev. Tanya Wallace, is a gift to WMA.
- Listening to the stories of so many as we walked along, I was immersed in Spirit and renewed in my belief that “grace is wild and free.”
- One of my fellow pilgrims was the Imam of the Islamic Society in West Springfield, Wisman Abdul-Baki. He is a scholar, and a holy man of peace.
- Students at UMASS Amherst will turn out at the end of a long day to meet a pilgrim bishop.
- Visiting several shops run by families who are members of our Latino congregation at the Cathedral, I realized that immigrants are the job creators.
- There is great, God-inspired, work being done by the nurses at Baystate Medical Center.
- Episcopalians are not shy to pray on street corners and in parking lots. Who knew?
- Casinos displace whatever is in their path – even a Correctional Alcohol Treatment facility – a place dedicated to amends, healing and hope.
- In Westfield, I found out that as many as twenty teenagers are homeless in this upscale community, living in abandoned buildings. And several community agencies, including our Church of the Atonement, are starting a home for them. I was blessed to bless “Our House.”
These are just a few glimpses of the myriad ways in which I experienced the sacred world of the Pioneer Valley. The “aliveness of God” is everywhere we look. I look forward to experiencing that holy “aliveness” in the Berkshires. If you are nearby, join me for a mile or two. And if you are far away, join me in prayer as the Resurrected Christ meets us on the road.