Tonight I got the call. A familiar voice on the other end of the line asking for Ellen. It was Pilgrim George. I don't know how to begin telling you about Pilgrim George except to say he is about the holiest man I have ever met in my life. He is in fact - a holy man. Pilgrim George has been walking the earth, quite literally, since the year I was born. He began his journey in 1970 while discerning a vocation. Over time it became clear to him that the walk was his vocation. He has put more then 40,000 miles on his feet, simply for the love of God.
Each year he maps out a destination to some holy place ( this year in honor of St. Anne) and spends all year getting there on foot. He has been all around the world. Russia, the Holy Land, Asia, Turkey, Middle East- you name it hes walked there.He takes the gospel pretty literally. He is kind and gentle. He is Christ-like.
I remember when I first met him in Vermont. He needed a place to stay while travelling and was pointed in my direction, as I have always had a soft spot for someone in need. From the moment he walked through the door I knew something was different. My kids didn't phase him at all, in fact he seemed to like them. We were in the process of moving from VT to Maryland at the time and when he saw Fred go out to paint our house, he went out after him and painted too. He helped me around the house and laughed gently and peacefully. I must have asked him about a million questions, doing my best to figure out what his real gig was- I mean come on- there had to be a catch here somewhere, right?
Finally, after 2 full days, I realized I had more issues then he did. I also realized God probably pushed him my way so I could learn something. So I asked him what did he really think was important after travelling all over the world, by foot, sleeping in tents or strangers houses, eating what was given him, enduring heat and cold, being welcomed and shunned, what was it that He felt I should know about the meaning of life?
I can still hear the words as they penetrated my soul:
"You have a father in heaven who loves you."
Could it really be that simple? Well, quite frankly- yes. It could. Pilgrim George thinks it is important enough to walk around the world for 41 years simply telling people that same message.
Once I was able to hear those words, it was amazing how clear everything else became. He is so good to be around. One really understands why a life dedicated to God can be beautiful when speaking to him. His words are never complicated or lofty but they pierce me to the core, because they are true. He has stayed with my family on 4 different occasions over the years. Each one has been a particular blessing. During a particularly difficult time a few years ago, when I felt I hadn't a friend in the world, he wrote me a beautiful letter that reminded me I had a father in heaven who loves me.( And Pilgrim George loves me too!) It has been 4 years and 2 babies since I last saw him, so you can imagine my surprise when I got the call saying he'd like to stop by tonight.
This evening I asked him as we sat around with children climbing in and out about us, what he thought was important for me to know now, today-to get to heaven. He said I need to let God love me and make room for him in my heart. After I thought about that for a moment I asked him what kept us from letting God into our heart- he said probably fear.
I think hes' right.
All of life seems to make sense to me when he is around.Those silly things that normally trouble me like the economy, or schoolbooks, illness, and misunderstandings- they all disappear and I can see it so clearly before me what life should be.
What a spectacular man.
If you'd like to read more about him you can do so here and here.