April 27, 2011 by Nicole
When I think about my idea of a vacation, the biggest thrill I look forward to is seeing a moose; in fact, Randy and I schedule entire vacations based on where we will have good opportunities to view moose. I distinctly remember the very first time I saw one; Randy and I were at Glacier National Park, hiking up to Iceberg Lake, when low and behold, someone told Randy that there was a moose sitting just off the trail. Sure enough, we hiked a few more feet, looked over the edge of the trail, and there he was–a big, beautiful moose sitting on a small patch of snow just relaxing away from the heat of a June day. The video footage I took of him is, to me anyway, wonderfully exciting, but for some reason no one else gets that excited about watching 10 minutes of a moose sitting on a patch of snow. Ever since that moment, I haven’t been able to get enough of moose. I wear clothes and pajamas that have moose on them, I decorate with them all over the house, and I look at pictures of them and watch documentaries about them; in fact, I was so hopeful that Randy would get the pastor job in upstate New York in part because it’s close to New Hampshire, where there are lots of moose. It’s amazing to me that seeing that one moose had such a profound change on my life.
In some ways, that’s kind of how I hope it will be when I go to Lourdes. Everything I have read about it talks about how people come away from there having undergone some kind of profound spiritual experience. Yes, Lourdes is about healing–in fact Lourdes draws thousands of people who are ill, physically disabled, or otherwise in need of healing–but I am excited to see what this experience will mean for me. Will it strengthen my faith to a point where I no longer feel so much worry and anxiety about life in this world? Will it help me to find the close relatinoship with God that I always long for but have trouble finding? Will I be able to pray and not get distracted as I do sometimes? Will I come home as a more loving and less pessimistic person? I met a woman at the Tenebrae service last week who said that she had been there. “It’s one of the holiest places on earth,” she told me, “and if you’re not changed by your visit there…”
This is also the first time I have gone on a trip like this all by myself, not knowing a single person with whom I am travelling. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever in my life–and certainly not in the last 11 years since I met my husband–taken a big trip by myself (not counting the time I drove to Canada one afternoon for lunch and brought back a postcard to prove to Randy that I actually was in Canada. I had an errand to run in Ann Arbor, and figured that after I took care of that, well, I might as well keep driving.), and most of those included amusement parks, sightseeing and/or looking at moose.
It occured to me that I haven’t really though much about what I am hoping to get out of this pilgrimage, and I think that I know now what it is. I want it to affect me and change me the way seeing that first moose did. Moose make me happy, I get excited when I tell people about them because I want them to know how awesome I think they are. People can see how much I love moose just by looking at my interior decorating. Moose are on my mind at least once every day. Now imagine that, but with a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. 🙂