Random thoughts about pilgrimage...

For a working class kid raised in a wealthy suburb - who NEVER did any serious travelling - I have a "jones" for pilgrimage.  It is what we love to do most for vacations, it is something I have found a way to weave into almost 30 years of ministry and it is something I've passed on to my children.  Making a trek to a new place to reverently learn about life from the locals has become a source of spiritual renewal and refreshment for me.  A quick list is sobering:

+ Four trips to Soviet Russia - including an extra month in Eastern block countries like Poland and the GDR - with a few bookend days in Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. The "Soviet" trips also took me to France and Germany, too.

+ Six months in Costa Rica with Holy Week in Nicaragua less than a year after their revolution.

+ Periodic peregrinations to Mexico over the past 35 years.

+ A month-long exploration of Scotland with a VERY intentional pilgrimage to Liverpool to worship at the various shrines to the Beatles as well as the Isle of Iona (where I am an associate community member.)

+ Another month wandering throughout London learning about the art and street scene from the bottom-up.

+ Travel to every US state except Montana, the Dakotas and Washington as well as some intentional wanderings to Montreal, Nova Scotia and (in early fall) to Thunder Bay, Ontario as well as a month-long sabbatical spent in New Mexico travelling the "blue highways."

+ And now our 10 trek to Istanbul with the Sister City Jazz Ambassadors. (check it out @ http://peace-makingthroughmusic.blogspot.com/)

Three books come to mind as essential for changing my mind about life and travel.  The first in William Least Heat Moon's classic:  Blue Highways.  Dianne and I have read this out loud to one another regularly as we drive all over the USA - and I have read it twice by myself - as it makes a connection between the inner and outward journeys of life.  I have learned how to let go and wander, weep at unexpected beauty, listen carefully to strangers who might become new friends to say nothing of cultivating an appetite for local diners.  This is not a traditionally "spiritual" book, but as this wounded wanderer drives throughout the back roads of America like a modern Hemingway in Travels with Charlie, there is enough spirit, soul and sacred wisdom to open any heart.

Another is Henri Nouwen's small volume, Gracias, a collection of his journal entries while working in Bolivia and Peru.  I read it on my first trip to Soviet Russia and have reread it a few times as Nouwen speaks of simply being awake and alert to the presence of God in unexpected places.  And then there is Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge - a book I read in the early 70s as a hippie - and reread as my first marriage was coming to a close and I was trying to find a new way of living and loving on the back roads of New Mexico.

I've made a few intentionally religious pilgrimage's, too - a favorite is Chimayo, New Mexico - often called the Lourdes of the Americas.  But I've found that in our casual pilgrimages, we mostly visit churches and synagogues - and soon mosques - along with museums, out of the way clubs,pubs and dives as well in order to get a pulse of the place - and hear something of the groove of everyday language.  Everyone who has ever been to Istanbul RAVES about it - and I am getting so excited it is hard to sleep.  And now it is less than five days away...

(go figure:  this song ALWAYS sounds like a road trip/pilgrimage to me - LOVE it!)

Comments

Black Pete said…
Keep in touch, O sojourner...
RJ said…
Count on it...

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