Retreat Recap: Annual Guide Gathering Provides Sneak Peak of 2021 Pilgrimages

Last week, the guides at Wonder Voyage met in Corinth, TX for our annual guide retreat. We had the pleasure of doing what so many are still patiently awaiting: we spent time together. We shared meals, stories, the pleasures of good conversation, and the wonder of friendships rekindled and reaffirmed. We prayed together. It was a weekend full of what many of us have gone without for months.

For all its good, our gathering was not immune to present realities. Quarantines, travel restrictions, and health concerns took their toll on our gathering: we weren’t able to see all of our Guides (notably John in Ireland, Miguel in Spain, and the Damianos).

Some of us shared or heard stories of personal loss and isolation. Some of us won’t be traveling in the near future. For some of us, a weekend like this brought healing… but not enough of it.

Many of us have heard cliches of “pivot,” “unprecedented,” and “uncertainty” to near-ubiquity. Many of us have a “new normal” (another unfortunate cliche) that feels too normal and not enough new.

But here’s the real pivot and the reason why our retreat made me so excited for our pilgrims in 2021: our journeys promise to be a radical and joyful disruption of this last year. We have a heightened sense of how bad things can be, and God’s goodness and beauty, by contrast, seem all the more shocking and fantastic.

To me, our retreat seemed a potential microcosm of this summer: an imperfect yet hopeful re-entry into a world seen anew. We prepare ourselves, with cautious optimism and genuine faith, to once again lead our pilgrims to new locales, pursuing the wonder of God.

Mike had just graduated from high school when he embarked on his first pilgrimage with Wonder Voyage. Though it took five years to reconnect with Shawn, Mike remembered his encounter with God in Ireland and wanted others to have the same experience. This has given Mike a special perspective on leading trips, which he does with flair.

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