The Very Rev. Anthony Pompa
Cathedral Church of the Nativity
The way I embrace my ministry, my vocation, my life really, was changed subtly and dramatically a few years ago when I was afforded a time of sabbatical. I approached that sabbatical time in the spirit of pilgrimage. Truthfully, I knew I was in desperate need of time and space to “catch up with myself,” but I had no idea the journey I would take would lead me so beautifully home.
Traveling to Wales to connect with my family heritage, I was gifted with so much more. Upon my arrival at the small stone cottage where I would reside and begin a time of spiritual direction with Esther deWaal, I found a poem laid out on table waiting for me. The poem, entitled “Arrival,” was a pilgrim’s poem that priest and poet R.S. Thomas had written about his own life’s journey and in particular his discovery when he arrived in the small coastal village of Aberdaron to begin his new stint as vicar of St. Hywyn’s parish. The poem captures Thomas’ searching soul finding in the beauty of this remote village a wonderful surprising truth he seemed to be longing for unaware; that after a lifetime of journey his arrival there surprised him with a truth–that he had everything to look forward to. The end of the poem reads:
…The river dawdles
to hold a mirror for you
where you may see yourself
as you are, a traveller
with the moon’s halo
above him, whom has arrived
after long journeying where he
began, catching this
one truth by surprise
that there is everything to look forward to.
(Arrival, by R.S. Thomas)
The poem marked the beginning of my journey where time, space, the beauty of creation, patterns of prayer and engagement with all of God’s creatures, I slowly began to awaken to the surprise God had in store for me. I discovered home again, that is that beautiful communion with God, myself, and with others. It was there all along of course, but I was surprised again by the God who made me, loves me, and who unites me to greater love.
This diocesan journey we have been on is one that I have come to see as full of gift. The journey for us has been metaphorical and existential. Joy has been lifted, connections made, relationships renewed and begun, gifts offered and shared. We live a life now into this next future. Together we go always in a spirit of pilgrimage, embracing this truth: We have everything to look forward to.
“Arrival,” Thomas, Ronald Stuart. Collected Poems: 1945-1990. London: Phoenix, 1998. Print.