We had all loved seeing the sunrise over the Lake during our stay at the Ron Beach Hotel and we had not known as we watched it on Monday morning that this was to be our last opportunity on this trip. Some of us had even planned a sunrise swim before we left the hotel. But this was not to be, as the wake-up call happened at 2.45am and we were to leave the hotel at 4am to get to the airport by 6am. As we gathered in the lobby of the hotel for the breakfast that had been left for us we were quite quiet, which was probably a combination of many of us not being quite properly awake and of sadness that the end of our Pilgrimage had seemed to come very quickly. Our bags were loaded onto the coaches and we boarded the coaches for one last trip. We prayed together, as has been our pattern when on the buses, and then with the lights dimmed most of us slept for the majority of the two hour journey. We passed through the security barriers outside the airport very easily and soon found ourselves picking up our bags and heading into the airport.
Once again things went smoothly and we were soon queueing to go through to the departure gates.
Somehow the changes in schedule meant that it rather felt as if we did not say goodbye to each other properly and so, as we walked past people in the airport, we stopped and spoke to each other and shared our thoughts on the Pilgrimage and our hopes for our return home. The flight was uneventful and once again many of us dozed as we awaited our arrival and to see friends and relatives either at the airport or when we arrived home.
Now, we hope to find the time to reflect on all that we have seen and done in the time that we were away and to seeing each other again at the reunion meeting.
This first Ecumenical Pilgrimage has been a great success as we have learned about each other’s faiths and shared together. Friendships have formed and these will endure for many years. The mix of ages, of different places to live and of different expressions of Christian faith has been a real blessing to us all as we have shared time and food and experiences together, as well as laughter and tears. These are the joys of a Pilgrimage where there is time and space to once again (or maybe for the first time) glimpse where our Lord lived his earthly life; to contemplate what this might mean in our own lives as we return to South London (or wherever we have journeyed from) back to our everyday way of living.
Thanks be to God for all that we have seen and done.