Reflections From an Episcopalian pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail
Our assistant head of school, Lisa Work, recently participated in an Episcopalian pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail inspired by Spain’s Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain. Read her reflections below.
During the last week of June, I participated in the Appalachian Camino, a week-long hike created to reflect the Camino de Santiago in Spain by the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The only person I knew as we began the hike through sections of the Appalachian Trail in southern Pennsylvania was our Bishop Audrey Scanlan. The rest of the hikers were strangers to me. Loading our things into the trailer, waiting to be transported to the trailhead, I met three other ladies- Kay, Meridith, and Amanda. Little did I know that the four of us would become a “hiking sisterhood” before the week was over.
Equipped with my trusty multi-day backpack filled with all my essentials, we started the day with a worship service at Calvary Chapel in Waynesboro, PA. We prayed for our pilgrimage and had our feet blessed. After reaching the halfway point of our day’s hike and stopping for lunch, we embarked on what felt like a never-ending stretch up to a hill leading to Chimney Rock. Having just recovered from a respiratory infection the previous week, and not having taken my inhaler that morning, I found it difficult to catch my breath. But one of my new hiking sisters, Kay, stayed with me and was an affirming and patient companion as we slowly progressed up the hill.
After a day and a half of hiking, I realized I didn’t need to have a large backpack. My husband was able to send my smaller day pack with our rector who would be joining us to hike for the day on Tuesday. Even though my pack was smaller, I still had everything I needed.
During our pilgrimage, my “hiking sisters” and I had moments of questioning our choice to take this week-long journey. It was so very hot, the hills were sometimes so very difficult, and our feet were sore. However, we supported each other up the hill by being present in the moment.
I knew that although I wasn’t going to be the fastest hiker on our Appalachian Camino, I would be persistent. Some days, though, I struggled, thinking, “I am slowing our group down. I wish I was faster.” One evening during our worship time, as we were sharing our experiences, I discovered my hiking companions thought my pace was a good one. They were grateful when I would state, “Time to take a break and drink some water.” They, too, desired these breaks. I discovered that even though I was not always the fastest, nor the strongest, I was seen as my group’s leader. I also came to appreciate that each woman in our group brought her own unique leadership qualities that our group needed: Kay was affirming and compassionate, Amanda was our encourager and always shared a positive outlook, and Meridith provided wise insight and authenticity as we journeyed through the week.
Although I was extremely tired as the week progressed, I learned that if I was willing to try and begin hiking up the hill, God would provide me with everything I needed to finish the hike. I also learned that as I trusted God during my weakness and doubts, the mercy and grace I received would flow out to the people hiking with me. My Appalachian Camino experience has provided me with a clear reminder that God has created us to live in community, which is one of Logos Academy’s core values.
Isaiah 58:11: “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”