FAITH MATTERS: Life is not about the destination but the journey

Life is not about the destination but the journey, is a saying that is not uncommon to many. For those who can reflect on the ebb and flow of life, on success and challenges and grow in faith and love, I believe are the people referred to in John 10:10, being able to live life to the full.

Nicki Graham, Assistant Principal at St John Vianney’s school Morisset, is a person who lives life to the full through her love of walking and pilgrimage.

Nicki was brought up by very devout Irish Catholic parents and like so many young adults wandered from the faith track. It was not too many years later she had a strong pull to pursue teaching and has taught in the Catholic schools for over 25 years in many capacities including Religious Education Coordinator.

While feeling disappointed and disheartened by the Catholic Church on many occasions Nicki has found solace in connecting with the earth, in relationship with the other, which in turn has deepened her faith.

Her first experience of pilgrimage was on the Aussie Camino which saw Nicki walk 220km’s over seven days from Portland to Penola in the spirit of Mary MacKillop. Her principal at the time could see her faith needed nourishment and encouraged her to pursue this walk.

‘I have done walks before, but never in terms of faith, when you are walking on a pilgrimage you have intention. Sometimes you are unsure of your intention, but it emerges as you travel on your journey. You realise it is not only about training the body to sustain the distance each day, but also open the mind and heart. On pilgrimage you meet people who have different life experiences and story, these are great opportunities to learn and grow not only about others but about yourself’.

Nicki recalls a compelling moment on pilgrimage when she was quite happy walking by herself and praying to Mary MacKillop when she encountered a massive brown snake. Nicki did not feel fear but rather felt that Mary was by her side and that she was not walking alone, God had her back. This gave Nicki enormous strength on her journey.

Since the Aussie Camino Nicki has felt the desire to continue to capture the kenosis she experienced on this pilgrimage and has walked, Hidden Lake Circuit: Alpine National Park, Victoria, Overland Track, Tasmania, Apollo Bay to 12 Apostles, Victoria, Main Range Trail, Kosciusko, Six Foot Track, Blue Mountains, Jerusalem to Jericho in the Holy Lands and our very own Maitland Newcastle's aMeN CaMiNo multiple times.

Pilgrimage offers the gift of time in a busy world. Time to pause from routine to discover the wonder and awe of the earth and the human encounter of experience and story. Time to reflect, contemplate, breath and discover unexpected moments of God’s grace.

Nicki is part of the aMeN caMiNo training team and is looking forward to leading pilgrims in 2021.

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