Petra bobbed her head, dipping her massive body into sturdy legs. She pulled her wings inward, a feathered presence gathering strength to fly. Earlier, we had held our breath as she, a gorgeous Turkmenian Eagle Owl, flew around the seated crowd from post to post. Her trainer’s British accent heightened the moment, telling stories of an owl’s life and survival, also confirming that I wasn’t in Kansas (or Connecticut) anymore.
But this moment was different. Following an extended head swivel in both directions, Petra was looking in our direction. Her dark eyes held mine. I opened myself to the mystery…she flew between and barely above our heads…my son, Jared, and I were graced with Petra’s strength of purpose. As she passed by my ear, her silent wings spoke, “Here I am, join me in the dance of life.”
What I have heard is true, a pilgrim’s heart is an open heart. My plans to travel to England had some very specific destinations in mind, but with a pilgrim’s heart I was open to the unexpected and grace-filled moments that quietly appeared before my eyes. I am so grateful for these gifts, for the experiences I had on my own and with Jared and Samantha, my son and daughter-in-law, who shared the adventure. Before I continue, may I add two things: First, thank you for your responses and prayers following my last Glimmer. I truly carried you with me on this journey. And secondly, I hope my story-telling always carries invitations for you to consider your stories, your prayer and moments of grace. My intention is to speak of the personal as a doorway into the universal human experience.
I flew to England with two desires in mind: A shared experience with Jared to encounter landmarks from 3 generations in our family tree: my Grandma’s childhood home, my great-grandfather’s baptismal font, and my great-great grandparents home village. I hoped to sink into these spaces, to rest in the human story that these places and names represent and to trust their love, now and always. And, amazing but true, to spend special time with Jared and Sam, with an occasional hand on her belly, as they celebrate her 20 week pregnancy of their little girl, our first grandchild. Their joy was palpable, their love extended beyond that little bean in Sam’s belly into the world!
This pilgrim’s heart came home joy-filled and hopeful, as I found myself placed in the center of a lineage of love. From the Cotswolds to Cambridge, I experienced belonging deep in my heart. I join Petra’s sweet whisper and sing it to you, dear friends, “Here I am, join me in the dance of life!” May you find moments of pilgrimage in the unexpected around you. May you wait and watch, trusting yourself and the paths you’re invited to walk. May your heart remain open to love in all of its manifestations.