Peace Pilgrimage 2020
The Christmas Peace Pilgrimage celebrated its 61st year in the Leigh Valley Dec. 12. Due to COVID-19, however, this year’s pilgrimage was done on an individual basis.
According to the event’s website, the pilgrimage began in 1960 as a Christian witness for peace. It is symbolic of the journey of Mary and Joseph. All are welcome to participate in the pilgrimage.
What typically happens during the 10-mile walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem is that participants walk and enjoy fellowship, all while discussing ideas of peace. The Lehigh Conference of Churches sponsors the event and different churches from the conference provide rest stops along the way.
This year, pilgrim participants were encouraged to make their own personal walks with people they already share space with on an everyday basis. Then on that Saturday, the pilgrims met via Zoom meeting to discuss their experiences and share fellowship.
Participants were encouraged to share poems, short readings, messages of peace and personal stories of reconciliation. Rick Dow, chair of the planning committee for the last 15 years, facilitated the Zoom gathering.
Various ideas of peace were discussed, including hope for criminal justice and death penalty reform. Mimi Lang kicked off the conversation with an original poem about peace.
Another participant, James Orben, shared a letter to Santa that he wrote this year as an adult. Orben asked Santa “to bring me peace. Bring the world the love we need to see beyond the petty strife, the struggles that divide us. Bring us the vision to see that we all want the same things. And that we each must step through the self-built barriers dividing us if we are to find the peace justice we crave.”
Participant Susan Vargo reflected on how her sons used to look forward to carrying the Bethlehem star on the Peace Pilgrimages during their adolescence. Participant Tom Pietrzak expressed how walking by himself was not the same experience as walking with the group. He encouraged everyone not to take for granted “how essential it is to come together and share a physical space. There is no substitution for being in the company of one another.”
For more information and pictures of the Peace Pilgrimage, visit the website peacewalk.org, or visit the Facebook page Christmas Peace Pilgrimage.