Today’s the day I head east for my trip to serve the displaced overseas and collect the stories of those I meet along the way. During the past few summers, I have spent much of my time leading mission trips and pilgrimages for church groups from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds.
Before the first trip I would lead, I would rummage around my room trying to find my small, black, Patagonia man-purse. I carried this bag with me at all times on my trips. My life resided in that bag — in more ways than one — and it stayed forever perched on my hip for the summer months.
Necessary paperwork and a few books would be jammed inside, but nestled in the flap pocket was (and is) a Russian pilgrimage icon. It was given to me and blessed by an Anglican priest in Moscow one summer when I took my own pilgrimage of sorts to Mother Russia.
In the midst of my busy travels and a weary soul, my distraught hand would brush up or lay absently upon the icon which was located perfectly on the outside of my bag, and my bag was located perfectly on my right hip. A quick jolt of God’s mercy would shoot from the hidden icon, through my tired hands, and to the fatigued places of my soul. It would strengthen me and remind me — You can do this. I am with you. Don’t forget. I am indeed good.
As I am about to board a plane to places I have never been, to be with people (for the majority of my trip) I don’t know, and called to do a work I am utterly incapable of doing, I place my hand of the icon and remember:
Oh yes, You are good.
Therefore, the story below is the story of how the icon became a symbol and a means of God’s goodness in my life. A reminder I will need each day of this journey.