El Pelegración y la Esperanza

This immersion, this visit to “La Communidad de la Esperanza” in Cobán, Guatemala, this project of providing a weeklong intensive clinic for the largely indigenous people of this very rural area in a country in far-away Central America, can be viewed through many different lenses. We who make this journey together are discovering new eyes for seeing the people we encounter. We are building little by little new vocabularies for naming those whom we see and why their lives matter.
I find myself viewing this immersion through the lens of “a journey.” Indeed, I find myself seeing it through the journey of another — Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits — and a journey I was privileged to make this Spring to the places that shaped Ignatius, his birthplace in Loyola, and stops along his road in Spain (Arantzazu, Montserrat, Manresa, Barcelona) and in Italy (LaStorta, Rome.)


Ignatius is teaching me to see this new journey to Cobán through the lens of “pilgrimage.”

An ancient practice common to many people (religious and non-religious alike), to make a pilgrimage entails entering a story and a history not just with words and images, but with our bodies, our footsteps, our hungers, our anxieties. To see what others have seen. To feel the weathers and taste the waters of distant lands. To encounter the sacred in other places…


To make a pilgrimage requires that one surrenders control, becoming vulnerable enough to need others, to ask for help. 


The pilgrimage of Ignatius included the surrender of his sword and nobleman’s clothes (he exchanged clothes with a beggar), and a decision to set out on a long, winding road whose endpoint he could not see ahead of time. Along the way he saw his own life in wholly new ways, and he encountered the kindness and gracious mercy of God in ways he could not have imagined. And he found his calling, his own doorway into the question, “how ought we to live?”


We might not all immediately think of this word — pilgrimage — to describe our interfaith medical immersion, in part because we are focused on the ones we are privileged to serve. But they are taking us places we never dreamed of… they are opening doors to a world we are just beginning to know. Even as our time with the people of this community brings them a measure of hope, they touch our hopes, our dreams, our desire for “life that wants to live.” Our time here has drawn us into their hope. For this we are pensively, deeply grateful! 
Fr. Kevin Burke 


Popular Posts