The Life of Pilgrimage

Chartres Cathedral labyrinthI am in China with my family on a heritage tour, a pilgrimage of sorts.  Those familiar with my book Longing to Love know that my daughters are Chinese, so we have returned here in order to see their orphanages and learn more about this land and these people.

This has been holy time.  I mean that not in an overly pious way, but rather to suggest that in carving out space in our lives to focus so wholly on our daughters’ origins, we have reoriented our daily existence around the great desire to practice love as a family, and thereby live out our vocations.

In preparing for the trip, we all agreed that there would be highs and lows, times of exhilaration and times of stress.  All of these times, good and bad, would knit our family relationships, so that even the most insignificant or most difficult experiences might yield some fruit.  Yesterday, for example, we met some of the earliest caregivers of one daughter.  The experience ranks as one of my life’s high points, seeing the love and tenderness that one ayi (“auntie”) in particular showed for her, now ten years removed from my daughter’s life there.  Today, a comparatively slow day, was no less blessed, though, because of the two hours of charades that we four played in the hotel room while the weather was bad.

So now I ask myself: why don’t we live like this every day?  Why can’t we bring the same attentiveness to highs and lows, with an eye to the big picture, the unfolding life for which God has created us?  Is not every day a part of the life of pilgrimage?  Cannot all our life’s moments, from the most mundane to the most sublime, be part of that life of grace?  Surely the answer is yes, and surely in our prayer we allow God to remind us of that grace.

Photo of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth courtesy of giopuo under Creative Commons license.


  1. it helped me to know more about our pilgrimage journey on this earth thank you so much for this inspiring thought though we may fail to live upto the mark the Lord is there with his grace.
    thank you.

  2. Tim,
    Thank you for sharing your reflections of your family life. I have been reading your book The Ignatian Workout. Very helpful.
    As a Chinese American here for over 40 years, we took our three children back to Hong Kong for a wonderful visit ~15 years ago. They still remember well some of the things we did while there. There is so much to be said about heritage tour.
    Seeing how you ‘live’ the Ignatian Spirituality in your family is edifying. It helps me to trust more in God’s Grace as how we are called to live.

  3. Such a rich post… and a sure reminder of how we are called to live, even if we do not always do so. The grace is always there.
    Thank you for sharing this and so much of your life with us through your words.


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