Every year at this time, the 8th graders of our local Catholic middle school go on an 11-mile hike from north to south, stopping in at various churches along the way to pray and be fed. Each year, they choose a charity in need of funding to direct their prayers and the money they collect prior to the pilgrimage toward.
I was really happy to hear that the charity of choice this year was Little Flower Elementary School of Minot; a school that was flooded out this past spring. Kids have such big hearts, especially when they are able to help other kids, it seems.
My daughter, who is not inclined toward going door to door to collect money, was disheartened when the goal of $10,000 had not been met the day prior to the journey. By that point, they’d brought in $4,000 – a far cry from the hoped-for amount. So she and her friend got together and went in search of some generous neighbors. Some of her classmates did the same. When the money was totalled up the next morning just before setting off on the trek, the announcement that they’d exceeded their goal in the last-ditch effort was met with hooting and hollering and plenty of smiles.
Like two years ago when my son’s class went on this journey, I served as event photographer, making sure the pilgrimage was recorded. I’ve handed those photos on to the coordinating teacher. The visual I have here is the one I took with my camera.
Though you can’t make out all the names on the cross, you can see it’s been filled up with signatures of all colors. After the students have walked that long distance, they end with a signing of the cross, adding it to the others who have gone before, marking the completion of the journey and the sacrifices along the way. Every group had a chance to carry the cross. The group with the cross always ended up at the end of the line, feeling the burden of the journey in a particularly tangible way. But certainly, being a cross-carrier makes the walk all the more purpose-filled in the end.
I love being part of this event, and I smile to imagine the children and staff at Little Flower Elementary School when they receive word that the 8th graders here in Fargo have helped to make the rebuilding of their school a reality.
When love is set in motion, it’s a beautiful thing.
Q4U: If you could take part in a pilgrimage, where would you go and why?