Another Reflection by Lucy Appert on the Heavenly Rest Pilgrimage to Jerusalem:
“Our tour guides have been like midwives. Their job, their calling, is to preside over the miracle of spiritual renewal and discovery, just as midwives preside over the miracle of birth. Through repeated exposure and perhaps by nature, they are able to be both part of and outside of the miraculous processes unfolding within the individuals in their care. They set up conditions, anticipate reactions and issues, plan ahead, supply materials, and then stand back and let the Spirit take its course.
Their work has taught them that all pilgrims and pilgrimages are at once the same and different. Thus they have itineraries and Plan B’s and Plan C’s that they employ based on the conditions on the ground, always remaining detached enough from their plans and from what they are witnessing to assess and adjust. Their teaching by example on ego is especially significant: They acknowledge that they can facilitate the spiritual process, but insist that the work and the benefit is all on the part of the pilgrim.
All of us have been touched by the depth of care our guides have offered us (though the 5:30 am departures and 14-hour days have sometimes felt like tough love). Through their example of care for us, we have started to care for one another differently. What began as neighborly kindness within our community has blossomed into deeper compassion and desire to facilitate one another’s journeys, along with a recognition that those journeys will be different from our own.
When we visited the church at Burqin commemorating the miracle of Christ’s healing of the lepers in the cave, one of the oldest churches in the world, we were reminded that of the ten lepers who were healed, only one, the Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus. All of us want to follow the example of the Samaritan leper and return thanks to our midwife guides for the incredible gift they have helped us to open within our selves.”
This icon from the Church of St. Photina (the Samaritan woman), The Dormition of Mary, is a reversal of the Madonna and Child. Here Christ cradles the soul of Mary at her death, thereby completing the cycle of nurturing love that her faith set in motion.