St. Philomena Walking Pilgrimage
Spending Time With God
By Karen Ziegler
When Deacon Dave Hudy and his spouse, Bev, spoke about the St. Philomena Walking Pilgrimage from Yorkton to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rama, I felt called to again become a pilgrim. My husband Dennis and I walked the Camino de Santiago in 2016 and I am still feeling the graces of that pilgrimage. To walk with St. Philomena in Saskatchewan somehow seemed a continuation of walking with St. James in Spain. Bev’s slogan, “Spending Time With God”, rang a chord deep within my spirit. I registered to go.
Deacon Dave and Bev created this annual 4 day walking pilgrimage from Yorkton to Rama, August 11 – 14, to correspond with Rama’s annual pilgrimage. Those who signed up were people who walked the entire 100 km distance, those who walked single days, and those who volunteered to be part of the support team, helping the pilgrims along the way. We pilgrims always felt supported and encouraged with nourishment, refreshments, a ride if we couldn’t make the day’s route, and even with clean portable toilets along the way, lol! We knew there was a place to stay at the end of the day and all our gear would be there.
For me, the walk was full of graces. We walked sometimes together while praying the rosary and singing hymns. Often times we walked in pairs or small groups, sharing each other’s stories and our lives of faith. A couple of times I walked alone. During one of these times, I spoke out loud to God, “I wish I could see You, experience You near to me here and now, hear You speak, feel Your touch, Your hug”. Then I fell silent. I was aware of the sound of the birds. I felt the breeze caress my cheek. The warmth of the sun enveloped me. The mooing of the curious cows made me laugh. God was alive and present to me. I felt full of joy.
That evening in our camp Warren Crossman, a faith filled gentleman from the local United Church gave us a presentation. His talk ended with the poem And A Meadow Lark Sang by Ravindra Kumar Karnani. The poem speaks about a child asking God to speak to her. The child hears a meadow lark sing and the thunder roll across the sky. The child asks God to let her see God and the child sees a bright star shining and a life being born. The child asks God to touch her so she would know that God is here and a butterfly touches the child.
The poem affirms what I had experienced that day on the way and what I already knew. God was one step ahead of me!
This is only one of the grace filled experiences I had on the St. Philomena Walking Pilgrimage. As I return to everyday life, I am aware of God’s presence with me every moment. I look forward to next year’s pilgrimage and to whatever God has in store for us as we walk along together.