Friday, May 6, 2011



I get a few emails and notes each month from people who have enjoyed reading one or another of my books. There are usually several at Easter, when readers want to let me know that they have just spent the forty days of Lent on pilgrimage with me via my book Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey through Lent.

On Tuesday I opened an email entitled “My ‘shared’ Lenten journey” expecting to find just such a thank you. I love to hear from people who have benefited from my writing. But this time what I got instead was something much more beautiful than a simple thank-you; it was a glimpse into a mother’s soul. Since I have not asked her permission to share her email on my blog, I’ll just give you the gist of it.


This Lent, she told me, she and her son shared their Lenten journey every day by using my book (to which he had introduced her), and she had then used the book as a guideline for her personal journal which she shared with her son via letters. Why letters? Because he is currently serving a long sentence in prison!

As part of our great group of Lenten “pilgrims” who were reading the assigned chapter for each day, this mother and her son strolled together along the cobblestone lanes of Canterbury, crossed a Bolivian river in a jeep, took the Amsterdam-to-Paris train overnight and visited a Cistercian abbey on a rocky islet in the Bay of Cannes.

For the son it must have been rather poignant to be able to “escape” his cell for a few minutes each day, and for his mom it must have been just as special because she was sharing those same moments with her son and then sharing her thoughts with him about what she had seen along the pilgrim road.

A pilgrimage is supposed to leave you changed. From what she said in her brief email the journey had indeed helped both her and her son to grow closer to the Lord through the cross. She didn’t say so but I’m guessing that the forty days of sharing must have helped the son and his mother grow closer to each other, too. You can imagine how gratifying it was for me as a writer to know that one of my books had played a part in that life-giving experience.


Since the Church extends the celebration of Easter for a period fifty days until Pentecost, I considered this mother’s email as an Easter gift to me. So I turned the tables on her by hitting “Reply” on the email and thanking her for the beautiful Easter present.

Maybe you would like join me in praying for her and her son -- especially if you were one of the many people who were on the road with us during Lent.

If you have a story about your own Lenten pilgrimage we fellow-pilgrims would love to read about it in the “comment” box below.

...............Pilgrims Leaving Canterbury


  1. I was touched by your Easter gift message describing the woman who shared the reflections in your Pilgrim Road book with her son who was incarcerated. So often we choose to take journeys solo, when sharing an experience would be much more enriching; which is, in essence, what all of your books are about. Recently a friend gave me a copy of your book, Walking in Valleys of Darkness: A Benedictine Journey through Troubled Times. I thought it was timely to receive it during Lent—the questions you posed took the reader on an inward journey to examine ways he coped with trials and tribulations in the past, and the role God played in summoning inner strength. So, I, too, would like to thank you for the Easter gift of your latest book and for your generosity of heart, for in sharing your personal trials with all of us we discover time and again that God is the ultimate source of our strength in difficult times.

  2. Thank you for your kind comments, especially about "Walking in Valleys of Darkness." I was very hesitant at first to use my own personal experiences in writing the book, but a couple of good friends pushed me into it. I'm happy that I let myself be pushed!