I’m starting to assemble the items I’ll be taking with me to Israel and deciding what will go in my suitcase and what will go in my backpack. As I tinkered with my “what to pack” list, I was hit with the magnitude of this gift I’m about to receive.
It’s huge – so huge, in fact, that I absolutely can’t accept it. Not, that is, without finding a way to gift back. But, how?
In the past few weeks, I’ve heard again and again, “Oh, I wish I could hide in your suitcase and go along!” Well, I wish I could take others along with me, too. Additionally, I been seeking a way to turn this working trip into a pilgrimage. I’m told that I should expect to be constantly on the go, early mornings and late nights, on an off the bus, and lots of walking with limited time for private prayer.
As I looked at my backpack, sitting empty in the corner of our home office, I had what I hope is a bright idea. True, I can’t take folks along with me physically. True, I’ll be focusing on work. But, there is an option.
I can carry others on my back through the Holy Land!!
I can take names and petitions, write them on a card or in a little booklet, put it in my backpack, and carry it with me wherever I go. The card will “remind” God who’s traveling with me, and the backpack will remind me to pray for them when I’m able, even if it’s a simple, “Jesus, please help them,” as I fall asleep on the bus. If not actually, then symbolically, I’ll be on pilgrimage in Israel and I’ll be able to pay it forward at the same time.
Since that moment I’ve been sending out email invites to family and friends asking them to allow me to carry them on my back through the Holy Land. They can send just their names, or they can include specific intentions – whatever is best for them. The response, to my great delight, has been remarkable.
Here’s a sampling of who I’m taking with me so far:
– Spouses, children, and relatives who have left the Church.
– Priestly vocations
– Financial concerns and joblessness
– Children in difficult situations
– Families divided by suffering and discord
– An exorcist’s deliverance ministry
– Parish and parish school needs
– Health problems, including blindness, advanced rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, amputation, and seizure disorder
– Families and individuals searching for God’s will
– A young man with an eating disorder
– Upcoming marriages and unborn babies
– The repose of loved ones’ souls
– A son who is spiritually lost, homeless, and wandering
– Drug and alcohol addictions
– Apostolates and their fruitfulness
– Waning strength and discouragement
– Conversions, conversions, conversions!
Those are just the ones I know about! Only God knows the intentions of all those who responded to my request. Whether known or unknown to me, I feel privileged to carry these people and petitions along.
My pilgrimage-in-a-backpack idea has really taken off, and I’d like to see it go further. Would you allow me to carry you on my back through the Holy Land? If so, please send me an email at email@example.com. If you like, include your intentions along with your name. Come on along, and together we’ll see what miracles our Lord has in store for us.