This course at St. George’s always ends with a visit to the road to Emmaus, the story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance where the disciples do not recognize Jesus as he walks alongside them. After all, Jesus has just died on the cross and then disappeared from the tomb. They are not expecting to see him alive. It is not until they all eat together that they realize he has been with them all along and it is at that moment he vanishes.

Of course, there are four different locations that could be Emmaus, but that is part of the fun and the frustration of the holy Land. Holiness resists definition, refuses to be pinned down to one spot. It might actually be here or it might not be. It might be walking right beside you in the stranger on the road.

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I love that we end with a new beginning, the return to things familiar having been rendered quite different from this process of pilgrimage. How do we keep holding the process of pilgrimage as we move back into our lives, our work, our relationships? I can hardly wait to sleep in my own bed again, but I hate to leave this place, my home away from home. It is exhilarating to feel connected to the center of the world, to the earthly stage of the greatest story ever told. I am filled with gratitude for another pass through. And what a gift from God to walk this land with my daughter, Wesley.

Pilgrims are persons in motion passing through territories not their own, seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps clarity will do as well, a goal to which only the spirit’s compass points the way. – Richard Niebuhr