Spiritual walking and pilgrimage

I had a good evening last night with our friends Nick and Lindsay- Nick fresh from travels to the USA. he had been to a conference for outdoor education/leadership types, and seems to have had a ball.

We have a project underway looking to create opportunities for meditation and reflection in the outdoors- using elements of the spaces we find ourselves in to bring deliberate attention to God, and to our journey with him. Some of this will hopefully become a book, if we ever get our acts together to get it finished.

Some of the meditations can be found here…

As part of this, I have been thinking a lot about the great traditions of pilgrimage.

People of all faiths seem to recognise pilgrimage as an essential spiritual practice. In researching WHY this should be the case, there seems to be very little complex theological reasoning involved. Pilgrimage, it seems, can not be easily deconstructed into theological structures- rather, it has to be walked, and experienced.

Pilgrimage appears to have meaning only in the life of those who walk it. It may have shaped whole counties and cultures, but it has not easy yardstick.

Some walk to escape, others walk towards.

Some walk in companionship, others alone.

Some always have an eye on a destination, others live for a far horizon.

For all- there is the outward symbolism of an inner journey. A decision to walk towards God…

We are all of us, sojourners. A long way from home.

What’s so important is the attitude of the pilgrim. And the attitude of pilgrimage is one of openness, one of allowing the unexpected and the surprise to be present with you, and to not be caught up in what your plans were, or the way things should be going, but rather what’s happening, and what the experience is giving you. I think the sense of coming to a pilgrimage site, it’s so awesome that you can’t but feel complete, or you can’t but feel invited in and a part of the millions and millions of people down through the ages, who have made a sacred track.

Lauren Artress

2 thoughts on “Spiritual walking and pilgrimage

  1. St Jerome: “We do not worship, we do not adore for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.”
    Thomas Merton : “Sitting at home and meditating on the divine presence is not enough for our time. We must come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves – which is the same as saying we find Christ in him.”

  2. Hi there

    Thanks for the quotes! Interesting one from St Jerome- he certainly seemed to get about a bit, so should know all about peregrinatio.

    Interesting too that the place of relics was obviously a hot issur in his time- 1100 years before the Reformation…



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