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holylandPsalm 8 is one of my “top three” favorites. It is no wonder that it should appear in the lectionary this morning as I leave home today to begin a pilgrimage that will take me to Israel tomorrow. The refrain, O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth! is an apt title, I think, for what will be a voyage of some 5,600 miles (one way!) to reach a place that is sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths. Along the way I hope to see the sunset from above and know the clarity of the atmosphere from at least 6 miles above the earth. Flying – even in a plane – is a spiritual experience for me and I relish the time even as I look forward to the adventure on the ground.

Because I cannot predict what the days will hold and want to be free to immerse in all the activities and reflection on what we experience, I decided to dedicate the two weeks of my absence to Thomas Merton, as we continue to be mindful of him during the centennial year of his birth. I have probed Thomas Merton’s Book of Hours by Kathleen Deignan for snippets from various Merton texts and have asked our administrative assistant, Mary Pat Hyland to post one each day until I return. I trust this will be a worthy exercise.

Just as I do not travel alone but with 20 other pilgrims, so I am aware of connections to others near and far who share the spiritual journey with me. So I have packed everyone in my suitcase and look forward to the journey that will, I hope, culminate in a deepening of appreciation for all of us of God’s wonderful name in all the earth.