By Alicia Chichak
From December 27th to January 4th, a group of young adults from the Eparchy of Edmonton in Canada and the Eparchy of Parma in the United States made the decision to leave the normality of their lives and embark on a journey to bring themselves closer to God. Whether it was to immerse themselves in prayer and find stillness in God, or even just to grow closer in companionship with like minded people, each individual had something on their hearts drawing them to Holy Transfiguration Monastery (often called Mt. Tabor) in Redwood Valley California.
As a young catholic adult in today’s society, working part time, going through school and balancing my personal life, prior to this pilgrimage I was honestly feeling stuck in a state of tiredness and felt a little lost. I wanted to go to Mount Tabor to experience a change of pace and strengthen my relationship with God. I feel most at home and at peace in nature, around mountains and trees, and I hoped that God’s creation would help me along my journey.
Starting in the dark at 5:30 AM and going all the way into evening, we immersed ourselves in the Liturgy of the hours. We had the opportunity to engage in silent, personal prayer. We were able to partake in the sacraments of reconciliation and the eucharist. We received spiritual talks, guidance on prayer, and spiritual direction from Fr. Bohdan Nahachewsky, Fr. Joseph Matlak, Sr. Darlene Pelechaty SSMI, Millie Schietzsch and Katie Matlak. On the long drives to the ocean, redwood forest and local winery excursions, we got to know each other through invigorating conversation and sang our hearts out.
The monastery brought us together in a way that nothing else ever really could have. In our minds, God was first, and it was through God that we came to know each other. It was through my experience at Mount Tabor in prayer, in nature, and with all the amazing people I met there – the monks, the program leaders, and my friends – that I was able to find healing and gain the strength I needed to pick up my crosses and follow Christ on my return home.
In the end, we are all pilgrims, regardless of who we are or where exactly we are going. We are all being drawn towards something, and we are all yearning for something greater. The journey never ends either, if anything this pilgrimage has shown me that my journey has really only just begun. And I would like to challenge everyone to take the time to question themselves and truly reflect, where am I on my journey to finding holiness with God?