Thursday, June 19, 2014

Well Said: Pilgrimage and willingness to be profoundly changed

Although the taking of pilgrimages to holy shrines and sacred places has played a major role in most world religions (especially medieval Catholicism), today only Islam maintains a strong and visible commitment to this ancient discipline. True, many modern Americans will take secular, consumer-driven pilgrimages to such places as Disney world or Graceland or Manhattan, while others will take more intellectual and aesthetic pilgrimages to Rome or to Athens or to Stratford-upon-Avon. A number of Jews and Christians will even make their way to the Holy Land. Still something, I fear, has been lost. Perhaps it is that sense of messianic anticipation that coverts the journey into a longing for higher purpose. Perhaps it is that willingness to be profoundly changed that transforms it into a voyage of self-discovery. Perhaps we simply insulate ourselves too much.

First off, this is an excellent book and I will be reviewing it very soon.

Now then, I have been musing on this idea of pilgrimage. And I've been doing it for long before this Holy Land Pilgrimage came up.

I'm perfectly open to change and self-discovery if they happen to find me where I am. I don't have to be at home. I can be on vacation.

However, the idea of traveling with that as a goal is not one I have ever cared about. To be perfectly honest, I was actively disinterested in visiting the Holy Land, until a few years ago when a friend brought me an undeniable "message from God." He wants me to go to the Holy Land.

Not a message I was dying to hear, actually.

It has taken several years to get myself used to the idea. I've always been of a mind that the wide world is one of the reasons we were sent the Holy Spirit. We don't have to go to one place to get holy, God does it within us where we are. I am willing to be profoundly changed (obviously or we wouldn't have this blog as evidence). However, given the opportunity, I do like to dictate terms while we do it. And evidently location.

That said, the years of wrestling with this idea, while trying to figure out how to afford it, have given me a peace about pilgrimage. In fact, I've come to identify with Abraham's journey to Canaan more and more.

Musing about Abraham and this book and also some of Diana's comments have made me also consider a pilgrimage as a tribute, a sacrifice, an acknowledgement to the physical ... to Christ's Incarnation. There are things we experience physically that affect us in ways we can't predict. Pilgrimage may indeed be one of the most profound ways to pay tribute and give thanks for Christ's Incarnation.

And I like thinking about it that way. As an offering of thanks and of myself.


  1. I've been thinking about pilgrimage too. I would really like to walk the Camino some day, but I'm afraid. And I realize that part of the act of pilgrimage will be getting up the courage (or abandonment?) to just trust God and go.

    1. I think that is the reason for a lot of people. In my case, what I've battled is a complete disinterest in ever going to the Holy Land. (God didn't care, evidently! ha!).

      Though I've had a sneaking interest for a long time in walking the Camino. Never done it not because of fear but because of the lack of time and money.