Last August, WRM founder Marcie Stokman experienced a pilgrimage to The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, WI. The shrine is the only approved apparition site in the United States, and is growing to be a popular destination for pilgrims around the country. She shares her reflections on that experience:
Ever since I heard about pilgrimage, I wanted to go on one. I have been to shrines but always by car. Walking to get there seemed important. This desire for sacrifice surprised me. I went asking to know Mary in a deeper way.
The first stretch of miles I was surprised at the slow pace. “Are we really going to walk this slow?” I wondered, “This seems ridiculous with so many miles to cover.“ I never walk slow enough to read a small print prayer book with ease. The pace was hard for me in, at least three times I found myself ahead of the person carrying the cross. I knew I needed to accept the slower pace. I live life in a hurried way. I am used to rushing. On the pilgrimage time seemed to disappear and all that mattered was following the cross. I had to trust. The pace was intentional. The pace allowed me to see the farms and countryside, even the tassel on a stalk of corn. The pace allowed me to rest, to slow down in my mind and heart and body. Body mind and soul were all focused on Him. The pace was like a slow warm rain preparing the soil of my heart.
Silence, rosary, silence, readings from meditations, more silence and then… conversation! This conversation was different because it was born from silence. It was rare and beautiful.
At one point, I read in the reflection book about imitating Mary and then it said i.e. become one with her. That struck me. I realized the word imitate, for me, was an external thing like tacking something on. I can try to be like Mary, but imitating as becoming one with, that was something new. It is a change deep in my person, internal not external. The substance of my person becoming one with Christ.
As I write this 2 weeks later, I still may lose a toenail, but as I shared with my family, this pilgrimage was a highlight of my summer. I was overflowing with happiness at the same time my whole body and especially my feet hurt, I didn’t look great and I hadn’t showered for several days. The masks fell away as we journeyed together. We sang and laughed. How could this be such an experience of joy? Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we did not walk alone and our hearts were burning within us. I hope I can go on another pilgrimage and I want all my friends to go too. I want this joy to spread through our land.
Well-Read Mom is offering the exciting opportunity to join a pilgrimage to The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, August 13-15, 2018. For more information, go to the WRM Website.