A pilgrim ...
With gratitude to poet David Whyte
"The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation - to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. ... pilgrimage is always an inward journey." ~ Huston Smith in the Preface to The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred by Phil Cousineau
A Pilgrimage is a metaphor for a spiritual journey. The essence of a pilgrimage - whether to a sacred site on the other side of the world or into your heart - invites you to an experience that ...
“Pilgrimage calls us to be attentive to the divine at work in our lives through deep listening, patience, opening ourselves to the gifts that arise in the midst of discomfort, and going out to our own inner wild edges to explore new frontiers.” ~ Christine Valters Paintner, The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within
A Living Pilgrimage is a way of life. The destination takes you into your heart and closer to God. Your companions along the way can be a trained spiritual guide and fellow spiritual pilgrims, who help you listen and respond to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Land Pilgrimage, Old City of Jerusalem, 2018
THE LONGING AND THE CALL
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16
A pilgrimage is a trip you are compelled to take. Something inside you needs to be nurtured. Your soul has become restless. Whether you like it or not, a challenge demands your attention. You may not even know how to name the longing. Yet, when the call comes, you must say “Yes.”
A Living Pilgrimage question: Where is God in my life?
“The day on which one starts out is not the time to start one’s preparations.” ~ Nigerian folk saying
All travel requires some planning. You choose a date, place, companions, and activities. A pilgrimage has the same components. Just know that the time, place, people, and wanderings may choose! Preparation for a pilgrimage is an inside job. Yes, you must have your travel documents in order and know what essentials you need to carry. There’s more: You take time to examine your reasons for going. You set intentions for the spirit in which you move into this adventure. You read, pray, discuss, and reflect on the invitation that is taking you out into unfamiliar territory.
A Living Pilgrimage question: How am I listening to God in prayer?
WALKING THE PILGRIM'S PATH
“Your practice is your path. … It is simply the way of seeing, the way of hearing, the way of touching, the way of walking, the way of being, with humility.” ~ Phil Cousineau
Waking up, staying awake, paying attention … these are the daily activities of a pilgrimage. Even the mishaps along the way present opportunities to respond as a curious pilgrim instead of as a disgruntled tourist. Some of the most valuable experiences of a pilgrimage occur when things go “wrong”: the bus breaks down, language differences cause confusion, you confront a prejudice you didn’t know you had. As a pilgrim you take one step at a time, staying open to what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel; making space for every emotion that arises.
A Living Pilgrimage question: What is God's prayer for me?
BRINGING BACK THE BOON
“The ultimate aim of the quest, if one is to return, must be neither release nor ecstasy for oneself, but the wisdom and the power to serve others.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Re-entry from a pilgrimage begins along the pilgrim’s path. You write in your journal and take photographs, capturing moments you want to share with others. Nonetheless, the hardest question to answer when you return home will be, “How was your trip?” A pilgrimage may defy description because so much of the experience will happen in your heart and soul. Yet, a pilgrim brings home more than souvenirs. You share stories, especially the ones that evoke wonder, surprise, and humor. Just as important, you show, by your actions, the insights and curiosity you experienced on the pilgrim’s path.
A Living Pilgrimage questions: Who in my life will benefit from spiritual journey?
Heart labyrinth at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico
The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred by Phil Cousineau
The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within by Christine Valters Paintner
Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri Nouwen
"Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discovery. The most exciting discoveries happen at the frontiers. When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world. Discovery enlarges and refines your sensibility. When you discover something, you transfigure some of the forsakenness of the world."
~ John O'Donohue, Eternal Echoes