Day 10: The Great Wall
Monday, July 18, 2005
We rose early to board our final bus for the 2-hour journey to the Great Wall. We had to have all of our packing done and ready to go, because there would be no returning to the hotel before making our flight home. The bus ride was filled with a mixture of sadness and excitement. The Great Wall was on everyone’s list of the things they most wanted to see on this Pilgrimage, yet we were well aware that this was our last day in our beautiful China. As we pulled into the parking lot, the enormity of this great wall hit us. This immense stone wall of steps, walkways, and pagodas literally touches the sky; and some of the pavilions along the wall were disappearing into the clouds. There was no question, our four young pilgrims were going to climb that wall – even Dana, who was nursing a leg injury all week, was determined. I watched them disappear up the initial stairway blending into the throngs of visitors, rising up, up, up toward the clouds. In spite of the fact that I had been here before, I still marveled at the enormity of this structure. The Great Wall was originally built to protect China northern invaders and although it ultimately failed, it is a splendid achievement. The particular section of this massive fortress that we visited was called the Juyong Pass. This location provides wonderful history, photo opportunities, souvenir shops, and places to eat or grab a drink. We spent a good two hours exploring, climbing, taking pictures, and buying our last souvenirs before boarding the bus for the airport.
Cathy had one more surprise in store for us – we stopped for lunch in the cloisonné factory. We were given a wonderful tour, and all of us agreed that we have a whole new respect for the labor involved in creating cloisonné treasures. The molding, painting, sanding, glazing, heating, sanding again, and the detail work – we were all impressed and took our time selecting little cloisonné pieces: Christmas ornaments, vases, figurines, cell phone baubles and wall hangings. Gathering our treasures, and checking out, we were then led upstairs to a dining room where we enjoyed our last meal in China. Tears filled our eyes as we thanked God for our food and our blessings. We were no longer surprised at the lavish and generous presentation of food, but we still “oohed” and “aahed” as each platter was served. We made this final meal our opportunity to thank Cathy and give her a parting gift – assuring her that we would indeed return.
As we said good-bye at the airport gate, there were once again many tears. We made our journey home in a melancholy state – trying to cheer each other up with special remembrances and stories we will one day tell our grandchildren. And once on American soil, our little group began to split up, each to his or her own home, knowing that we were leaving something very special behind and vowing not to forget one another.
Our journey was complete and yet we have so far to go. Our eyes were opened in a way not many will understand, but we’ll do our best to open the door for other Christians who are longing to meet their brothers and sisters across the globe. This is the greatest part of our pilgrimage now – to carry on the blessing and the peace – there’s enough for everyone on the little planet we share. And so we close our journey with this final note which was the last entry in our pilgrimage meditation journal for this day:
I weave out of the tapestry of my wanderings
A tapestry of teachings.
Everywhere I have gone, everything I have done,
Has been for this –
A spiritual lesson that I now take within.
Had I stayed at home when the journey called me,
I would never have learned this lesson.
Gratitude fills my heart.
In benevolent love and grace,
Megan Weymouth and …
Dana Baker, Pam Koller, Peggy Matteson, Daniel McDuffie, Alicia Perras, and Joe Tripp
China Pilgrimage, 2005