• ninacrutchfield

A pilgrim's feet


I snapped this photo of a pilgrim's feet while waiting in line for confession outside the Shrine of Our Lady of Medugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina. I was and still am fascinated by it.


I actually ended up on pilgrimage almost by accident. A dear friend, who I affectionately refer to as my spiritual weightlifting coach, shared her plans over supper while I was in town for business meetings. Casually she said, "You should go with us." Of course, I made made every excuse: no time, costs too much, cannot take off work, my husband will not be in favor of me being gone that long without him and having to take care of all the animals. You know, all standard excuses.


Later that evening, back in my hotel room, I called my husband and shared the days events, including my friend's plans for the fall and the invitation to join her on pilgrimage. Much to my surprise, he said "You should go." As I lobbed the various excuses no to go, he ended the discussion with "If you really want to go, then you should go. No excuses."


I sat for another hour praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance. Was I being invited, drawn, pushed to actually take time off, spend all that money, go half-way around the world to a place I've never been? It felt like He was knocking on my heart's door. The answer was Yes, I needed to go on pilgrimage.


Five short months later, I found myself staring at a man's feet.


I had packed my best walking shoes. I knew I'd be doing a lot of walking to and from the hotel, to daily Mass in the cathedrals, hiking Apparition Hill, climbing Cross Mountain, and going to various spiritual talks through the week. My feet did get sore but my soul sang.


So, I stared at his sandal-clad feet. I marveled at the juxtaposition of his sores and callouses to my air-sole cushioned, pedicured, and protected feet. It was obvious he climbed and hiked barefoot. How different his experience from mine. How different his penance from my comfort-seeking. How many times had he climbed over the rocks and boulders compared to my single assent.


This man, making his confession, was a spiritual giant and I stood in his shadow. I feel like an infant in my faith as I contemplate the photo. It continues to be a good reminder I still have a long way to go, many sacrifices and penances, before I can call myself a true spiritual pilgrim.

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