For something I have been planning for a long time, I am stunned by how unprepared I feel for my upcoming trip to Ireland.

yes, it’s true, i’m going!  Finally. But no, i didn’t get the research grant I applied for.   It was disappointing news to say the least, especially after how much time and energy I put into writing the grant proposal; but i knew long before i found out that i would make my way to Ireland one or another, and I promised to keep people posted, so here I am.  This trip will still be a part of my graduate course work (part of a 6 credit hour independent study) and will still find me studying Irish Catholic migration to Atlantic Canada and the ties that still bind the two regions.  For those interested, I will write a bit more soon about what sorts of things I will be studying and what I hope to accomplish in my research. In total, i’ll be gone for one month.

In some ways i see this as a personal pilgrimage: a journey with spiritual and personal significance.  I can’t remember what it is like anymore to stop and think about life…to reflect on my experiences, who I am becoming, and who I have already become without realizing it.  It is like I blink and a week, a month, a year has past. It’s a pace of life of which I have grown all too accustomed.  I am altogether ecstatic and nervous to change that pace. I am worried about what will happen when I actually have time to think;  worried what will happen when I stop everything else to do something that is only important to me and not anyone else.  Come to think of it, i have never done that before.   I think I expected to be met with disappointment and discouragement for pursuing a crazy dream, only to come to find out that there are people out there who care about me so much they want me to succeed in fulfilling it,  even if it is just that…crazy! I can’t tell you how much this experience has rocked my world. This is new ground for me.

And I do have moments where I feel absolutely crazy.  I am leaving Canada, my job, my friends and family, for an entire month to pursue some delusional ideal.  In some ways it is like I am chasing a rainbow in hopes of finding a treasure…only i don’t know exactly what the treasure is yet.

As it stands I am4 days away from leaving with about 100 things to do somehow. So for me, the pilgrimage doesn’t begin until the plane takes off with me on it.

I plan to keep track of my journey through this blog and i’ll be posting on the St. Stephen’s University travel blog as well  (www.ssu.ca/traveltheworld). My hope is to be fully present in my experiences, finally taking the time to get some writing done that I have put off for too long.  So, as crazy as this may sound to those of you who know me well…you may not see me much on facebook and email; in fact, i hope to stay away from it as much as possible. I think I just need a true break from regular life–time to sort some things out in my mind and heart, and hopefully be a better person for it in the end.

So thank you thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your encouragement and support. I have never felt more cared for than I have through this journey. There are no words to express how touched by support, surprised by kindness, and changed by Love I am… Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I go on my way chasing rainbows.

–The Crazy Pilgrim.


5 Responses to “Pilgrimage”

  1. 1 Tim July 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I love that you’re doing this Shelley! Go for it, grab on to every experience possible, and enjoy every moment.

    I love what you write about being present in your experiences. So true!

    Here’s to many adventures!

  2. 2 Lindsay July 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Have an amazing time! Be safe and keep us posted on your progress. I’m so glad for you, that you get to realize this dream. God is so good, He loves to see our dreams come true! I hope you discover more of yourself and a whole lot of God in this adventure.
    Lots of love!

  3. 3 HeidiRenee July 5, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Did you get everything you needed at the mall yesterday? Travel well and enjoy every minute!

  4. 4 gbecks July 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I’m excited to hear about your adventures, studies, and thoughts from this trip, Shell. live well.

  5. 5 Chris July 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    After such a long time coming, it’s finally here. I’m excited for you Shell, especially knowing that you are treating it somewhat like a pilgrimage, stepping outside the stream of regular life and glancing back to get a clear reflection. The idea of searching out a rainbow is such an adventure – I hope you have plenty of those ‘experience of a lifetime’ moments, as well as the ‘I understand the meaning of life’ moments.

    Have an awesome trip!

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