lijoe's picture

Have you ever gone on a pilgrimage in your life?

When I asked my parents about this, they told me that as a 3 year old baby, I had once gone to Velankanni and then again when I was in the fourth standard.

Other than this, the only pilgrimage I have been to is that of St.Thomas Church on Malaytoor a small hilltop. (This for me has been more of a physical conquest than a spiritual one!)

I was thinking of pilgrimage when I was lying bedridden due to jaundice over the past twelve days. I decided come what may, I am driving to four of the most sacred shrines in Cochin where stories of miracles abound. Mind you I am a Roman Catholic but of the lesser belief kind, the new generation's confusions? Not sure... Well I do believe in God but at the same time I ask too many questions to my mind and the end result is it makes me critical of everything associated with my belief and hence a little wary to commit myself fully to it.

However this July it was different.. I just knew I wanted to pray to God for one moment without questioning his every actions depicted. It is a tough thing, because when I opened the Bible with my eyes closed, I am in the Old Testament reading about Kind David, his mistakes, good deeds, sons, wives and concubines. Automatically my mind goes to the Ten Commandments and the cycle of thoughts begin again...

I closed my eyes and opened the Bible again, further to the end and I reach the parts of the Last Supper. It spoke about what Jesus said; His final commandment to love your fellow beings and how he would grant wishes to the ones who believed in him. It gave me hope, it gave me a renewed strength and I decided to go out on a local pilgrimage. Somehow the belief came in and I decided I wont question why it came in. I wanted something and only a miracle can make it happen...

I went to St.George Church at Edapally, St. Antony's Church at Kaloor, St. Jude's Church at Thevara and Mother Mary's Church at Valarpadom. It was like a 60-70 km round trip by the time I was back..

At each church I went in, I spent sometime there praying. Tears came down my eyes for the first time and I realized the peace and tranquility that comes in when you depend on someone else to carry your cross. For a moment I let go, I just asked God to take my burdens and told him to give my hopes a meaning. I was sobbing incessantly at one of these churches due to which one of the passerby came and put a hand on me and asked if I am fine. In any other thought of mind, I would have been embarrassed by such a public display of emotions, but this one day, I guess it was my heart doing all the talking and my mind had shutdown. I just prayed like I used to when I was a child, believing truly that God will and can fulfill wishes.

At each of these shrines, I left a note in their “petition” box with what my heart requires. Before I put it, I just prayed hard to God to know if what I was asking for was right in anyway. The answer that came within me justified me to put an effort to do the same. I went ahead and put my petition. Now you may be thinking what is a petition? Well in these churches, they have a group of people, sometimes priests and nuns, sometimes highly religious people believed to be gifted with the holy spirit who will pray and intercede for us with God to grant our wish. So we write our problems and ask for solutions from God. Sometimes God grants, sometimes great things happen..

At the end of the day, I felt some peace though my body was racking in pain due to the long drive with a jaundiced body and my driving was a little wayward. I felt some relief however temporary it is. I had done my pilgrimage. Did it make me stronger, did it take my pain away, did it give me hope? I dont know yet. Only time will tell...

But I learned a lesson out of it. God is like a manager. He has given us brains to do menial things and day to day activities. When we take on bigger tasks, we pray to him for guidance and he gives us strength to do it. When it comes to impossible things or difficult things, God enters the picture to help us and takes things into his hands. What wrong we do, we do it due to our own thoughts. When you make mistakes, there is only God who gives you the punishment or forgives you. When you need something impossible, he works miracles to let you know, for HIM it is always possible. End of the day, we all live to die and go to heaven to be with HIM!

So it is for us to decide what we need to do for things we can do on our own and leave it to God for miracles to happen.

Did this change my outlook to life? No it just strengthened the fact that my belief has always been right and every time I see something good happening I appreciate HIS blessings without which it would never happen. I do not need to go to church every day or every week for me to believe or find solace or to let HIM know I believe but maybe I should do it more often to get the tranquility... HE is there in my heart helping me do my daily duties if they are good deeds... For now I ask him only for deliverance...

When I went on my pilgrimage, my heart opened as much as it can ever. Maybe this could be my first or last pilgrimage? Only time can tell...only time can..

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