New Hampshire Bishop Robert Hirschfeld is preparing to lead a 40-day pilgrimage on the Connecticut River, from Northern New England near Quebec to the Long Island Sound.
In our sound-bite culture, Hirschfeld’s message can be reduced to this: Put down that cellphone, and pick up a paddle.
“This is a way to experience God’s love for us, God’s grace, God’s desire to flow in us and around us,” Hirschfeld told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview. “And in our forming a community of pilgrims, my desire was to slow down and put aside our electronic devices, all the busy-ness of our life, and just be fully present with God and each other in the midst of God’s creation.”
The River of Life pilgrimage, which launches May 31 near the Canadian border, is a collaboration of all Episcopal dioceses in New England, as well as the New England synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and several conservation groups. More than 50 people signed up in advance to canoe or kayak multi-day segments, camping overnight, and others are invited to join the group for day paddles. Daily segments average 10 to 12 miles.
The 400 mile journey will start near the border with Quebec, and follow the river as it flows south between Vermont and New Hampshire and then through Massachusetts and Connecticut to the Long Island Sound.