pilgrimage

“It is therefore the broken tribesmen who originate pilgrimages.”
newadvent.org

since accepting the invitation to participate in the training school, i’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of pilgrimage.  processing what it means to simply learn to walk with Jesus, to learn His ways.  and to do so in a community of people.  it seems rather simple…just walking, right?  but journeying is never easy, especially in unknown territory.

pilgrimage is a widely accepted practice in most other cultures and faith-based systems.  people pilgrimage to religious points of interest, usually considered a homeland to their faith.  Mecca for Muslims, the Holy Land for Christians and Catholics, etc.  it can also include journeying to one’s homeland or a journey through a specific place, such as the story in Eat Pray Love, where the main character  travels across Asia, exploring faith, food and herself.

whatever the case, though, pilgrimages generally have a purpose.  they are intentional times of sacrifice, journeying and exploration.  they create a space to know and understand more fully ourselves, our God, our world.  the focus is taken completely off the “norm” of work and hectic schedules, and placed more on this journey.

one common theme in most pilgrimages is the idea of returning “home.”  the quote above is taken from an old myth that tells the story of tribesmen who must make their way home when experiencing hardship, to petition for their needs from the gods of their native lands.  i love the idea that the broken initiate pilgrimage.

perhaps the greatest story of pilgrimage is the one Jesus called his disciples to.  we seem Him in the gospel stories, coming across a series of rag-tag guys, just doing their work, living their lives.  “come and walk with me,” He says.  they drop everything and proceed to have the next three years of their lives turned upside down.  there isn’t any indication that they always knew where they were going, or how long they would be sleeping on someone’s floor, or even if their next meal would be provided.  but still they walked, and their lives would never be the same.

when i talked to Larry about the possibility of participating in the training school this year, he explained it in those very terms.  that Jesus extended that invitation to us all; we need only accept.

we are now nearly 2 months into this journey.  last night, we all hiked into the woods together.  gathering around the campfire, we began an awkward and hard conversation of expectations and understandings of our journey together.  it was basically a time to reflect as a group on this place in our journey.

for me, i simply needed to be reassured that we’re where we’re supposed to be, and that we’re ok.  i love and appreciate every class, and have greatly enjoyed my time with others in the group, but i have no idea where we are or why i still feel compelled to be around.  much like the picture above, i feel we are walking through a wilderness.  although the path may be easy to distinguish, the way is not clear and the sky is clouded.  i look all around and the scenery never changes.  or doesn’t seem to anyway.

finally, Larry, our fearless leader, stepped forward and told us we are ok.  we are healthy.  we are a good group.  and we are in a good place.  it’s still going to be hard, he told me this morning.  we’re in the thick of it and it’s hard, but we’re moving toward good things.

and so the pilgrimage continues.  i am trying harder to allow space for God to speak to me, both of who He is and who I am, to see things along that journey that remind me of Him, to see Jesus in the faces of His creation.  to hold this journey close and treasure it.  to just rest and know i am moving in the right direction.

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