French Dip, 2018
A PILGRIMAGE TO GLENCOE AND THE CHICAGO AREA PLANNED BY AND WITH FRIENDS FROM NANTES, FRANCE
In 2017 St. Elisabeth’s was given the great gift of being asked by our rector’s friends at Trinité de l’Éraudièr in Nantes, France, if we would help them prepare a 2-week pilgrimage to Glencoe and the Chicago metropolitan area in October 2018.Nantes is a much more homogenous city than Chicago or Glencoe, and they were anxious to experience the rich diversity we take for granted. They were especially interested in learning about our Jewish neighbors and in worshipping at a traditional Black Church.
Our new understanding of pilgrimage was our guide, and planning and arranging multiple experiences took a year. St. Elisabeth’s parishioners began exchanging notes and photos with the French pilgrims. We enlisted parishioners and neighbors to host guests in their homes. We reached out to our village leaders and local Jewish and Christian congregations to arrange opportunities to engage in conversation and mutual learning about each other’s traditions. One Jewish congregation invited our French guests to share a Shabbat meal in a member’s home. Another highlight was joining African American friends in Sunday worship at Second Baptist Church in Evanston.
Visits were planned to various cultural, historical, educational, spiritual sites in Chicago, and our new French friends loved visiting diverse neighborhoods, trying new eating experiences, and listening to live jazz! We journeyed into the countryside to visit the historic town of Woodstock, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, and even a pumpkin patch and Halloween haybale maze.
A deeper dip into the American celebration of Halloween featured a family pumpkin carving evening with all ages and included some trick or treating costumes and Halloween stories as well.
One evening our French Pilgrims prepared their own festive meal for us and even engaged St. Elisabeth’s parishioners in learning some of their recipes and preparation techniques. We shared stories, songs, prayers, and common worship, learning how much we share in common across language, nationality, traditions and expectations.
Hearing French reflections on their pilgrimage experiences also helped us see ourselves and our culture through new eyes. Throughout our time together we experienced the presence of God and were emboldened to move forward with new priorities. French Dip was planned as a pilgrimage for our French speaking friends. In fact, it also became a pilgrimage for all of us at St. Elisabeth’s.