Be a Pilgrim, not a Tourist

Pilgrims are persons in motion passing through territories not their own, seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps the word clarity will do as well, a goal to which only the spirit’s compass points the way. — H. Richard Niebuhr

All true pilgrimages begin with yearning.  The journey to spiritually grow up and wake up is born of a deep hunger to come home to soul and Source.  Simple yet profound, this yearning finds its roots in our remembering who and whose we are.

We, who are so often destination-bound, would do well to remember the call to be pilgrims, not tourists, on this life’s journey. In the words of Suzanne Guthrie: “A tourist comes to see a place; a pilgrim comes to a holy place expecting to be changed. A pilgrim recognizes a holy landscape as a place mirrored within the soul.” Such expectations open us to the transforming power of God.

As you prepare for pilgrimage, pay attention to the changes going on inside yourself.  Are there any places of resistance?  Do you harbor any fears?  Is there anything you need to let go of (or set aside for a season) in order to be fully present to the journey?  How will you maintain your energy, how will you balance stress and renewal?

What will you pack?  How we pack our bags often defines the journey.  Are you going as tourist or pilgrim?  Don’t get bogged down by unnecessary luggage.   To be sure, going on pilgrimage involves courage.  Deep down, we know that no pilgrimage is ever what we initially expect it to be.  How much more so when we commit to connecting soul with Source for the flourishing of community.

Are you a pilgrim or a tourist?  Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral, challenges:  “Isn’t it time your drifting was consecrated into pilgrimage?  You have a mission.  You are needed.  The road that leads to no where has to be abandoned… It is a road for joyful pilgrims intent on the recover of passion.

Are you ready?  The journey awaits!

Journey Preparations

People go on pilgrimage for many reasons.  Some common ones are: to visit a sacred space; to seek healing; to give thanks; to express their love for God; to heed an inner sense of call; out of curiosity; to reclaim a lost or abandoned part of oneself.   Why are you considering this pilgrimage at this time?  Below are some questions for reflection.  Allow yourself some time to pause and ponder as you prepare for this journey.

  1. How will you prepare for this journey?
  2. Is there anything (activities, attitudes, other) that needs to be set aside in order to both free the time and allow you the space to commit to this journey?
  3. What is calling you?  Often pilgrimage begins with deep longing.  Sometimes it is born out of a wounding.  What is prompting you to consider making this journey at this time?
  4. How do you need to prepare yourself to connect soul with Source on this journey?  What ritual actions might give expression to the desires of your heart?