Pilgrimage is the ancient practice of walking, usually with others, to a holy site while paying prayerful attention to everything that takes place within and without, soul and body, all the ways that are inherent in the Way, along with the companions who are also on the Way. It is not as simple as it sounds.
Eugene Peterson, Foreword to The Way is Made by Walking by Arthur Paul Boars
As you read my little epistle this week Tee and I are trekking across the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. We are on a pilgrimage, a sacred journey, the purpose of which is to follow in the footsteps of literally millions of pilgrims who have walked the same path over the past twelve hundred years. Our destination, as was theirs, is Santiago de Compostela home of the cathedral that claims to house the remains of James the Apostle, the patron saint of Spain.
To hike over rugged terrain in all kinds of weather conditions just to see where someone’s bones are buried – even if they do belong to Saint James the Apostle – is not the real purpose, of course. Nor was it the real purpose for the millions of travelers who preceded us. Rather our pilgrimage is intended as a time of spiritual renewal, a sacred journey to a holy site, taking time to pay “prayerful attention to everything that takes place within and without, soul and body . . .” as Eugene Peterson says. It is for getting in touch with our own souls and for growing closer to our Creator.
Our pilgrimage began in the city of Pamplona in northeastern Spain, famous for the running of the bulls as you may recall. Fortunately for us that event is several weeks away. Remember the movie City Slickers? It seems rather ironic, but the movie started off with a flashback scene of Billy Crystal and his buddies running the bulls in Pamplona. Why is that ironic? Because in a sense that movie was also about a pilgrimage, about three friends in the early stages of midlife trying to get in touch with their souls.
Pilgrimage, though is about much more than midlife crisis. It is about life itself which is, when you think about it, a journey to a holy site, is it not? So, if you are so inclined I ask you to pray for us on our pilgrimage. . . . . Stay tuned, more to come.