A pilgrimage is not just where you go but with WHOM you go.
In college we live in communities that often have little relevance to the world outside of campus. We spend so much time with friends and form firm bonds, but they are of a very particular kind, unique to that college campus.
Traveling to France with the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir gave us all a chance to see a lot more than the spire of Chartres and the beaches of Normandy; it gave us a chance to see each other. As we encountered the deep history and the novel spirituality of France we saw the understanding that must have been alighting in our own eyes, in the faces of our companions.
Each of us takes with us biases and assumptions wherever we go in life. On a pilgrimage, however, these norms, from the cultural to the spiritual to the habitual, are all challenged.
In France I encountered new ways of praising God, new manners of living day to day, and SEVERAL new means of transportation. One would think that amidst all the new, the well-known would be a comfort. Rather, the strangeness of these differences in the French people put a magnifying glass to the strangeness of those with whom I live every day!
As we each began to question the assumptions by which we have always lived, it was a wonder to find many of the answers not along the cobblestones of Paris, but in the conversations with my fellow pilgrims. These dear friends with whom I had lived in community began themselves to realize that, while compared to the beggars of Sacre Coure we had lived a fairly similar life, there were distinct differences in the ways we were raised that highly affected our views and dispositions to many issues, ranging from familial structure to homework completion!
As we returned from Notre Dame to Notre Dame, we carried with us this new knowledge. Sharing this experience between ourselves, we have grown to see a little further beyond the borders of campus by seeing a little further into each other.
(by Liv Bratton)