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Pastor Beth's Pilgrimage

July 1, 2022 - October 2, 2022

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A sabbatical is a time set aside for rest and renewal.

From July 1-October 2, Pastor Beth Freese Dammers will be on pilgrimage during her sabbatical. She will be stopping in the worshipping communities of Iona and Taizé, as well as hiking on the Camino de Santiago and the Cotswolds. As a congregation, CPC will be blessing her sabbatical time and are invited to participate in a number of ways.

Check back here or follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more information on where Beth is on her journey, and how we can also participate in this Sabbatical time. 

Pastor Beth talksabout her Pilgrimage

What are YOUR Sabbatical Plans?


This summer is a time of Sabbatical for all of us.  YES, you too are invited to engage in the practice of PILGRIMAGE.  Whether this spiritual practice of being on a faith journey is familiar to you or a new concept, all are urged to find a way to be intentional about engaging in a Pilgrimage Sabbatical.  Here are some options:


  • Taizé worship in Oak Park on the first Friday of each month.  The journey from Clarendon Hills to Oak Park on a Friday night is a pilgrimage all of its own!  And the journey is well worth the effort as you will be surrounded with the peaceful tunes of Taizé music, beautifully resonating in four-part harmony accompanied by gifted musicians.  Scripture is read, silence is kept (10 whole minutes!), and we pray together.  The repeated melodies of the songs become sung prayer and make room for the Holy Spirit to enter your heart.


With funding from the Lily Grant, we aim to make the pilgrimage possible for ALL.  The church van will drive up to 15 folks to Taizé worship, leaving the church parking lot at 6:30 pm.  Children are most welcome and needed to help light the candles during worship.  Yet, if you prefer your children stay home, we will pay for your babysitting.  Please contact  the church office and we will reimburse the total cost of babysitting!


Beth & Sam will be in community with Taizé for a week.


  • Walk.  Simply gift yourself time to walk.  Walk your neighborhood.  Walk the Forest Preserves.  Walk at the Arboretum.  Breathe deeply, look around and notice what God is doing.  Listen for God to speak to you in the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other.


Beth & Sam are walking the Cotswold Way in England.

Beth & daughter, Emi, are walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago from Sarria to Santiago.

Beth walks solo on another portion of the Camino from Santiago west to the Atlantic Ocean on the Finisterre path.


  • Get creative! Pause during a walk to draw what you see.  Fill in your sketch with watercolors when you get home.  Paint a rock and “plant” it in a friend's garden.  Journal your observations of how God is showing up in your daily life. Take photos of anything that catches your attention and later meditate on this.


Beth will have a journal with her at all times, sometimes sketching, doodling, making notes, writing.  Sam will carry multiple sketchbooks and paints.  You can count on LOTS of photos!


  • Sing! Sing the songs of Iona.  Sing the songs of Taize.  We’ll be including these in worship during summer so they may become familiar to you.


Beth and daughter Katy will live in community at the Abbey of Iona for a week, worshipping 3 times daily with voices raised in song.  Beth and Sam will worship three times a day with Taize during their time there.


  • Read a book on Celtic Spirituality.  Here are some of Beth’s favorites:

    • The Soul’s Slow Ripening by Christine Valters Paintner

    • Walking in Wonder by John O’Donohue


Beth read these and other books in preparation for the Sabbatical.  She will explore Celtic Spirituality  during her time in Scotland.  Additionally she will worship at St. Giles Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh, the birthplace of Presbyterianism and burial spot of Rev. John Knox.


  • Walk a labyrinth.  Free your mind from needing to know the path and simply follow the twists and turns that move you closer to the center / The God Center.  Linger in the center, resting with God.  Offer your prayer.  Retrace your steps from the God Center back into the world, knowing you have been blessed.  The labyrinth at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Ave, is open for your mediation purposes.


Beth and Sam will walk the Chartres labyrinth in France . They also hope to visit Mont-Saint-Michel.

Latest Update - Click Here

Latest Update

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September 18 update - Home

After finishing her final pilgrimage on the Finnistere Way, Beth has returned home, but not yet back to CPC. She will spend the next 18 days at home, walking, getting regular exercise, establishing a routine with a balanced rhythm that honors the sacred in the everyday. She will continue to process the pilgrimages with prayer, meditation, journaling & creating picture albums incorporating stories of the people, places and experiences. This time of re-entry will allow for the pace and patterns of pilgrimage to be integrated into her daily life at home and church.


Welcome Pastor Beth back to CPC on Sunday, October 3!

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September 11 update - Pastor Beth is on the last portion of her Pilgrimage, hiking solo from Santiago de Compostela westward to the seaside town Finisterre.

As Pastor Beth is winding down her Pilgrimage, she has found a lot to be grateful for in her travels on the Finnistere Way. on the Camino de Santiago.

Hot showers, mid morning coffee (and all the folks that persevered covid and keep their small cafes going), roosters crowing, sound of wind rustling corn, farmers that wave as they pass you by in huge tractors, this kind woman who called me over to eat her blackberries, beauty of communicating with no Spanish and she had no English, lunch with new friends, a day with no rain, refreshing breezes!!! And most of all the promise that Christ goes before me, behind me, above and below and beside me!

What are you grateful for today?

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September 7 update - Pastor Beth is on the last portion of her Pilgrimage, hiking solo from Santiago de Compostela westward to the seaside town Finisterre.

Pastor Bath and her daughter Emi finished their time together with Sunday worship at the Basilica of Santiago de Compostela. Emi headed home and Beth is continuing on her Pilgrimage, hiking solo from Santiago de Compostela westward to the seaside town Finisterre.


The Finisterre Way is an ancient 71-mile trail along the Atlantic coast dating to the pre-Christian origins of the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims would follow this Camino trail to where the sun ‘dies’ and the land ends. Finisterre fittingly translates to "the end of the earth".  Probably named when it was believed that the earth was flat!

Beth reports that on her first day of hiking, it rained most of the day, 22 km, 33,000 steps. She was grateful for silence, almost waterproof coat and pants, and very good boots!!! Solo time is bliss.


Have you ever hiked solo? Do you find it blissful or lonely, or somewhere between?


August 31 update - Pastor Beth and daughter Emi have spent the week hiking part of the Camino e Santiago in Spain

Hospitality and Hiking: Hiking the Camino de Santiago


This week, Pastor Beth has met up with her daughter Emi in Spain and began their hiking on the Camino Frances route of the historical Camino de Santiago in Spain. Their travels took them 100 km from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. It is a traditional countryside experience, crossing woodlands, farmland and rustic hamlets on country roads and paths lined by granite stone walls. Sarria is the last point at which a pilgrim can start the journey on foot or horseback and still complete the 100 km needed to claim the Compostela having reached the burial grounds of Saint James. One needs to walk at least the last 100 kms (70 miles) of the Camino Frances route and stamp your pilgrim passport along the way in order to receive your Compostela pilgrim certificate in Santiago. On this part of the route, they will meet many fellow pilgrims and find the real spirit and camaraderie of the Camino!


There were many grueling days of hiking along the way, and even a mistake of hiking two day’s travels in one. But along the way they found much hospitality, compassion and strength from within, from prayers from home and from the presence of Christ. There will be much rejoicing with fellow pilgrims when they arrive in Santiago de Compostela. Beth and Emi will take a few days to recuperate, journal, socialize and reflect on their travels of the last week. 

Have you participated in a hiking Pilgrimage? Or maybe one that was longer or more difficult than you thought you could do? Where did you find strength?


August 24 update - Pastor Beth traveled to Scotland for a couple of weeks and met up with with her daughter Katy. They began this part of the Pilgrimage with a few days exploring Glasgow before they head to the Iona Community.

Pastor Beth and Katy spent a week in the living community of Iona. Iona is a tiny island located in the Inner Hebrides, 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long off the coast of the Isle of Mull. Beth reports that "The natural beauty of this thin place, Iona Island and the Iona Abby calls deep to my soul. Today was the Island Pilgrimage with singing, education, poetry, scripture at points all around the Island”. 


As residential guests Beth and Katy shared in a common life of work and worship, experience the beauty, history and living community of Iona and find inspiration and faith in action for justice and peace. They also discovered how this ancient thin place is enlivened by the music, liturgy, prayer and words of the Wild Goose liturgy.


A boat trip to the remote Isle of Staffa was an extraordinary experience.  They saw caves and volcanic formations that created the island. It looked something like “a cross between a honeycomb and sci fi building blocks". Many dolphins, seals and birds on the journey…but no puffins, they’ve already moved on for the season.

What is a thin place? "It was George Macleod of Fuinary, founder of the Iona Community, who said that the island of Iona was a thin place. He meant that the veil between the physical and the spiritual, the mortal and the immortal, was almost transparent in the intensity of its pellucid skies and its religious history. A place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.”

What is the Tuesday Pilgrimage? There are two guided pilgrimages to choose from to explore the island of Iona: an off-road one and an on-road one. Pastor Beth and Katy chose the off-road pilgrimage. that took all day and covered 7 to 9 miles across the boggy and rocky island. There were a number of inspirational stops along the way for a reflection and a prayer, as well as breaks for a sandwich lunch and for tea and flapjack in the afternoon.

What is the Wild Goose Tradition?  The Iona Community Wild Goose is the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit. In the living community of Iona, Scotland, guests will experience life in community and explore the here and now through creative expression and shared reflection on concerns for inclusion, sustainability and mutual accountability.


What can residential guests expect? 
In our programs, guests engage in conversation and action focussed on justice and peace, embedded in the concerns of the Iona Community.  We explore faith, take part in creative activities, and discover community over meals. There is time and space to relax outdoors, explore the beautiful island with its white sandy beaches and profusion of wildlife, take time apart to reflect, read, walk or write – or simply to be quiet in the peace of the church or the landscape. A fundamental foundation to our community life on Iona is the ecumenical morning and evening worship, to which guests, staff and visitors are warmly welcome.


For more details: Welcome to the Iona Community - A Christian ecumenical community


August 18 update - Pastor Beth traveled to Scotland for a couple of weeks and met up with with her daughter Katy. They began this part of the Pilgrimage with a few days exploring Glasgow before they head to the Iona Community.

"Glasgow is so charming!!!”

Pastor Beth is continuing her Pilgrimage, now exploring Scotland with her daughter Katy. They began with a few days in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland before they'll head to the Iona Village.


Their timing was perfect with the World Pipe Band Championships being held there this week. They got to see many groups practicing around town and then watch the competition. They also fell in love with the Highland cows that were equally entertaining, saw so many rich historical sites and even had dinner in a beautiful old church converted into a restaurant!

Are you joining Beth in her Pilgrimage?

Have you been to Scotland? What was your first impression? Have you ever been to a church that has been repurposed?

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Especially meaningful in their travels was the Chartres Cathedral outside Paris. Built in 1145 to glorify the Virgin Mary, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. It was designated a UNESCO heritage site in 1979. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th- and 13th-century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, combine to make it a masterpiece.


Most moving during the visit was walking the  walking the The Labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral. Inlaid into the floor when cathedral was built, the labyrinth expresses visually the essential symbolism that they wish to respect today. A place to meditate with Christ on death and eternal life. Each person is welcome to seek silence and peace through meditation on the labyrinth. They invite visitors willing to think about their life as a whole – to live by this journey throughout their lives


Can you image the number of pilgrims that have walked it, seeking and searching.

Are you joining Beth in her Pilgrimage?

With a focus on one foot at a time, PastorBeth was reminded to surrender her need to know where she's going next and trust God.

How can we also surrender our need to know and trust God instead? 

The labyrinth at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Ave, is open for your mediation purposes. or find a labrynth near uou at

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August 9 update - Pastor Beth and Sam spent the week in Paris visiting so many sites and celebrating Beth's birthday! 

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July 26 update - Pastor Beth and Sam are finishing up their week in the prayer community of Taizé. They will now travel on to Paris, Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel for a few days.

Pastor Beth and Sam finished their Pilgrimage week at the Taizé community in France and will now travel on to Paris, Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel for a few days.

Beth has felt very much blessed by the Lord this week in Taizé! So many new friends and fulfilling worship, singing, study and prayer. With travelers of all ages from all over the world there were many fascinating theological conversations, time to talk about the differences and similarities in our cultures and and fun while doing chores together! This is Taizé!!!!

To learn more about the Taize Community:

Are you joining Beth in her Pilgrimage?

You, and your family and friends. are encouraged and invited to pilgrimage to Oak Park on the first Friday of each month to participate in Taizé worship at the Ascension Catholic Church. Friday August 5th is the next service. See the Event page for more info.

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July 26 update - The Cotswold's are finished, on to France and the Taizé community. For a week Pastor Beth will be living, praying and studying in the community of Taizé.

Pastor Beth and Sam have finished hiking the Cotswold way and writes "I read your prayers wrapped around protein bars daily. I am saving each one! Thank you dear church. Today's spoke to me in a deep way as my leg is hurting a bit. The Cotswold Way was harder than I many hills!!!"

She and Sam have now made their way to France to the prayer community of Taizé. Taizé offers everything they need for the week, worship, study, meals and daily work. Pastor Beth writes, "The rhythm of this place is sweet to my soul."

The Taizé Community is made up of about hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. By its very existence, the community is a “parable of community” that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.

The brothers of the community live solely by their work. They do not accept donations. In the same way, they do not accept personal inheritances for themselves; the community gives them to the very poor.  Over 100,000 young people, adults and families from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Through the community's ecumenical outlook, they are encouraged to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation.

To learn more about the Taize Community:

Are you joining Beth in her Pilgrimage? You, and your family and friends. are encouraged and invited to pilgrimage to Oak Park on the first Friday of each month to participate in Taizé worship at the Ascension Catholic Church. Friday August 5th is the next service. See the Event page for more info.

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July 20 update - The Journey Begins!

Pastor Beth’s travels have begun! She and Sam have begun the first part of Pastor Beth's Pilgrimage hiking the northern part of the Cotswold National Trail in SW England. After three days in Woodstock, UK, they began their journey in Chipping Camden and will be hiking they'll be walking 7-11 miles a day between Stanton, Winchcombe, Charlton Kings, Birdlip and finishing in Painswich. So much history, gorgeous countryside and so, so many sheep.

A bit of trivia: Do you know the origin of the name Cotswolds? (Hint:cot + wold and answer in the comments later today.)

Have you begun walking on your summer Pilgrimage? How many miles have you walked this week? Have you experienced anything that has brought you closer to God on your walks?

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July 10 update - Getting Ready!


June 23 update - Getting Ready!

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Protein Power-Up

Send a sweet message!


During her sabbatical, Pastor Beth is scheduled for long walks and hikes. To encourage her at every step, special wrappers have been designed which will be put around her protein bars. When she needs a little nourishment, Pastor Beth will also receive a bit of encouragement from the congregation at CPC! Send along a short message by email to Pastor Susan or stop by the church office to fill out a wrapper by Sunday, June 26. 

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