In May, 18 people from the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, made a 10-day pilgrimage to Wales in the care of scholar and spiritual guide Esther deWaal and the staff of St. David’s Cathedral Pilgrim Center in Pembrokeshire.
On the morning after their arrival, the pilgrims met over breakfast with deWaal, who spoke to them about the Celtic understanding of pilgrimage.
“A coracle is a small hollowed out boat typically found in Wales, southeast England, and Ireland,” wrote the Very Rev. Tony Pompa, dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, who designed and led the trip, on the pilgrimage blog. “The coracle was used by ancient celtic pilgrims to begin a ‘peregrinatio.’ This compelling image of ancient people of faith climbing into small boats full well accepting the winds would decide their destination. These pilgrims set out on a journey where the destination was not geographical but spiritual. The ancient celtic pilgrim went where the winds directed them but their spiritual quest was to discover their ‘true resurrected selves,’ that is to discover what new life God might have for them.
“This was the image Esther DeWaal put forth to our pilgrims today. The image of peregrini climbing into coracles and letting the spirit take us to where we might find new life in God.”