It is said that every journey starts with one step. That is true of pilgrimage too, after all what is pilgrimage but a journey. The first step can be taken at any time, from any place, an actual journey, or as my Muslim friends say, “the most important pilgrimage is the pilgrimage of the heart.”
The start of a journey is the start of change. Pilgrimage involves change – leaving the old; discovering the new, encountering the unexpected; discerning good from bad, right from wrong.
An old Saint is reported to have said: “A pilgrimage has three facets; place, people, gifts.”
We start our pilgrimage at a specific place where we encounter God. He calls us to move on. Often like Abraham, without specifying the destination. Our part is to be willing to move on, to seek the place God will show us. God’s calling: the start of our pilgrimage, will mean leaving the familiar and the safe; knowing we will encounter the next place, the new place, with God at our side.
Some may choose a solitary pilgrimage, but life’s journey involves encounters. People we travel with – those we learn together with. Whether it be for a short or longer period. Or it maybe those we pass or meet on the road. Lives intersecting – stimulating thought and reaction. There are also those who have travelled before. Will we follow in their steps, or open a new path for others to follow? Whoever we encounter let’s pray:
· Lord, be in the mouth of all who speak to me.
· Lord, be in the heart of all to whom I speak.
As we travel we each have something unique to offer. God has gifted us so we can be his blessing to others. What do I carry that will encourage, comfort or build up? Are we ready to give knowing that “it is in giving we receive”?
Where is God on our pilgrimage; how does he fit in? Some see Him at journey’s end. The One we are seeking to encounter. Others see Him as a fellow traveller; joining us on the path of discovery. While some people feel they are ‘carrying’ God with them; taking Him to each place they visit and leaving a blessing behind.
Whether we choose or not, we are all on a pilgrimage. Even when we rest, or feel satisfied and comfortable, we are at a place with God, encountering people and sharing our gifts. When we acknowledge our pilgrimage or choose to start one, we are in a much better position to benefit from God’s desire and design for our lives.
O Lord God, Loving Father, fellow traveller, guide and mentor, the author and completer of our pilgrimage. May we launch out in peace, journey with hope and arrive with celebration.