If I Could Choose one or the Other

New followers don’t this, but four years ago, I did go on a Bristol Pilgrimage. The adult choir at my family church was singing at the Bristol Cathedral for a week. The spiritual areas we went to were day trips outside of Bristol. The pilgrimage actually began in London- that lasted only 2 and 1/2 days.

This year, the choir got to sing in Italy in Venice, Florence, and Rome. That was the pilgrimage I didn’t go on. It was due to the price. It was more expensive to go.

If I could pick one or the other, which would I choose?

I would choose England. For starters, there is no language barrier. Second, there is home base. All the pilgrims had their day trip and then afterwards got to back to Bristol each day. So, there was time to relax. There are many many many reasons why England meant a lot to me.

Let’s start at pre-pilgrimage. Yes, my family went up two days early. That was to get used to the time difference and to get a little bit more of London. That allowed me to see a musical in the West End. It wasn’t just any musical- I saw Les Mis in the West End that summer. The date was July 30th, 2015 where I ended up with an understudy as Jean Valjean. So, seeing Les Mis in the West End fit perfectly into pilgrimage- Les Mis is Jean Valjean’s spiritual journey- so I went from his spiritual journey to my own. This cast was epic, brilliant, powerful, passionate, and highly emotional. I still remember what it was like the moment I saw the theatre- I thought I was pretending- I didn’t know I was living it until I heard the orchestra.

“I Dreamed a Dream”

Do you think seeing Les Mis was the only thing that made England special? It wasn’t- there was a lot of other things that made the Bristol Pilgrimage what it was. After all, Les Mis wasn’t part of the Pilgrimage. It happened the day before. The fellowship that was created between 72 pilgrims was strong- “we are pilgrims on the journey. we are travelers on the road. we are here to help each other. walk the mile and bear the load.” That quote from the servant song was something I realized much later on explained all of us perfectly- we were pilgrims, we were travelers, and we did help each other.

We did go to unknown places. Leaving London was scary. I did not know anything about Bristol. I did not know if I would like it. I already had fallen in love with London- I only spent 4 and 1/2 days there- with the group, we had seen Windsor Castle, gotten a walking tour, had Evensong at Westminster in the quire, and attended Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral under the dome. Leaving Bristol to me was going into the unknown- we arrived to Bristol in the Evening. Little did I know how much I was going to love that town.

By the end of the week, I had gone to Berkeley Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, attended Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, and Chepstow Castle. In total, our flock of Shaun the Sheep went to 21- that is how we found we found out of 70. At Bristol Cathedral- I went to six Evensongs and one Eucharist. I did not think I would go to all of the church services, but I did. Here’s how I know how transforming the entire pilgrimage was- it was at the final Evensong. It was during the anthem, and I was crying- it was happy tears, and that reaction told me how much I was transformed during that trip.

What was my mountain-top moment? It was Stonehenge.

What was the best part of the pilgrimage? It was the Fellowship. If the Fellowship wasn’t that strong, everything that happened wouldn’t have mattered as much.

What was the best part of the entire trip (that is both the pilgrimage and the two extra days)? Les Mis

Stonehenge-the Mountain Top Moment

So, if I could actually could choose between Italy and England, I would still pick England. England was so transforming in so many ways, and because it happened- I heard the people sing. After Italy, my mom told me I would not like Italy because it was constant on the go- you do not get a moment to relax period. England it still my way to go. I loved where I went with England- since I was a pilgrim, I searched deeper in those scared places- that is what a pilgrims does- they search deeper in themselves to find the sacredness of a certain place.

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Songs with Memories

We all have those songs. They are the songs that have memories attached to them. I decided to make a list of some of those songs today- and decide to say why they have a memory attached to them.

Prince of Peace- Winterlight. Winterlight is a high school conference at Kanuga, an Episcopalian Conference Center, during the week of December 27th-January 1st. Prince of Peace is the first song that comes to mind whenever I think of Winterlight. We sang three times a day- there are a number of other songs that remind me of Winterlight. This song has the strongest connection to Winterlight.

Servant Song- do you have a song that has double meaning as in has more than one memory attached to it? That is what Servant song is. It remind of Kanuga- not a Winterlight memory, but a Parish weekend. It also reminds me of the Bristol Pilgrimage due to only a few lyrics- “we are pilgrims on the journey. we are travelers on the road. we are here to help each other. walk the mile and bear the load.” So one song with double meaning.

Lord, I Lift Your Name on High- Parish Weekend Memory at Kanuga

Sanctuary- Parish Weekend Memory at Kanuga

(Other Kanuga Songs)- Parish Weekend and Winterlight. So, there are a number of other songs, I did sing at the Parish Weekends and Winterlight that created lasting memories.

Edelweiss- This song from Sound of Music was my first piano recital song. That is part of why it is my favorite song from the musical, and one of the reasons why the musical is meaningful.

Popular- The only memory I have of seeing Wicked on Broadway with my mom is that this song was my favorite song at the age of 12. That is why Popular continues to be my favorite song from Wicked. There is another memory I have of Popular- but at the age of 21- in acting I for the final project, we had to show a side of us we didn’t show the teacher before so I decided to sing Popular. So I decided to sing Popular despite knowing I can’t sing that well in class.

Just saying what some of them are-not all.

Experiencing Italy in Charlotte

As some know by now, in 2015, I was one of 72 pilgrims who went to England for a pilgrimage. The adult choir with four choral scholars were singing at Bristol Cathedral for about a week. The places we were going to were in and around Bristol. When I first heard about Bristol, what inspired me about going was Stonehenge and the castles. Everything else did not- I did not exactly know what the other things on the itinerary were. While Bristol was the main base for us, the 72 of us had a brief time in London for the first 2 and 1/2 days in the beginning. The time spent in London would prepare us for what was to happen in Bristol.

Now the choir is going on a second pilgrimage abroad, but this time it is in Italy. I am not one of the pilgrims, but last week I got to experience some of the music. Hearing that music did connect me back to Bristol. It is amazing what can connect me back to Bristol. I still feel like if I could pick between England and Italy, I would choose England. I say that due to the castles and Stonehenge. Stonehenge was my mountaintop moment. Before the pilgrimage began, my family was already in London. Due to that, I was able to fulfill a dream- I saw Les Mis in the West End that summer- another reason why I am glad I went on that trip.

Easter Day 2019

Easter is the day of Jesus’ resurrection. It represents new birth. The first part of Easter is the 11:00 Church service- now we can sing the Alleluia again. Some members of the congregation bring bells with them, and whenever that word is sung in the hymns, those bells are rung.

Now, after church and once our family is home, now we have to wait. We have to wait till it is time to go to Easter Dinner at 5:00. It is the regular group that we have for Christmas Dinner- minus the cousins. That made up about 17 or so of us. Friends- a lot of which are church friends. Part of it included decorating Easter eggs- we could use stickers, markers, and those bingo markers. Then dinner- I had ham, cheeses potatoes, and a roll with butter. This was where I got my Easter basket, and there was the cracker thing. Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of what it is about, and because of being with family and friends.

Not knowing when we would be back, I had to record the 2nd episode of the Les Misérables series- I was right- my family came back towards the end of it. Now I need to watch it in the middle of this week.

The Beginning of Evensong 2019

On January 20th, Evensong started up. I do not know when I first started to go to Evensong. The first one was to get ready for the Bristol Pilgrimage. I did not know if I wanted to go to all of the church services on that trip.

Westminster (August 1st)- that was our first Evensong during the Bristol Pilgrimage. All of the pilgrims sat in the quire. We saw a sample of what was to happen at Bristol Cathedral. The main difference was the choir. At Bristol Cathedral- the choir would be the adult choir at my family church: that is why the Bristol Pilgrimage happened.
Bristol Cathedral- The choir sang 6 Evensongs and 1 Eucharist. I was surprised I went all of the church services. Back in London, I already went to Evensong at Westminster and Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral. In addition, one of the days, the choir had a day off, and the pilgrims went to Salisbury and went to Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral. Do you how I knew how impactful going to all 10 church services were? It was at the last Evensong- at the anthem, in the middle, I started crying. That reaction was enough to tell how just how transforming the entire trip was (that trip I went to all ten church services)- my tears weren’t of sad- my tears were tears of joy.

Back to Evensong on January 20th. Each time I go to Evensong in Charlotte, I connect to Bristol. I am nervous leaving London and going to Bristol. What was nice about Bristol is what we go could walk from the hotel to the cathedral. All the week went up, I learned to love the town Bristol more and more. The picture above is a Shaun the Sheep statue in front Bristol Cathedral. Evensong represents the Bristol Pilgrimage- in so many ways. The church services were only parts of the Bristol Pilgrimage- Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Bath, Old Sarum, Stonehenge, etc…. were in there as well. Evensong to me will be connect back to the Bristol Cathedral.

Feeding our Spiritual Body

We all have a human body, and we need to give it food. We also have a spiritual body, and just like the human body, it needs food too. It needs to be nurtured and cared for. Spiritual food is different from human food. What exactly is spiritual food?

Spiritual food does exist in many ways. It can be prayer. It can be reading the Bible. It can be doing devotions. It can be volunteering. It can be singing. It can be worship and going to church. See- spiritual food varies. It can be many things- it is different for everybody. It basically is making our spiritual body stronger.