“Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you.”
In several days, I will begin a pilgrimage while I am on my sabbatical. I will be walking about 115 km of the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. This has been a dream of mine for over fifteen years! The Camino is an ancient pilgrimage beginning in the French Pyrenees and ending in Northwest Spain in the city of Santiago. The story has it that St. James’ life ended there and his bones are buried in the cathedral. The whole Camino takes a minimum of 31 days to walk. However, to be an official pilgrim requires one to walk 100km (about 60 miles).
Why? For years and in many religious traditions, women and men have practiced taking pilgrimage.
Ed Sellner in his book, Pilgrimage writes the following:
“Since I was a child, seated at my father’s side as he delivered gas to the towns of rural Minnesota or next to my mother on my first train ride, I’ve had a desire to travel, to visit places filled with wonder, to encounter first-hand the landscapes of heroes, wisdom figures, saints. Part of this yearning may have been due to the landscape which I inhabited: that of the Midwest with its flat prairies and endless plains. I know, for certain, that my early love of stories and of books opened up new horizons and a much wider world than the one I physically inhabited. Perhaps too it is genetic, the wanderlust of my Irish and Norman ancestors living in my soul. Whatever the reason, over the past two and a half decades I have gone as a pilgrim to places made holy by those who have taught me with their wisdom and mentored me with their lives.”
“We are pilgrims on the earth and strangers; we have come from afar and we are going far.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Christian George writes: ‘Pilgrimage is an ancient practice in need of modern discovery – a physical, emotional and spiritual journey that goes inward, upward and outward. We live in an age that sees people drowning in questions, searching for answers and starved for purpose. Pilgrimage is a spiritual practice that reminds us of our sacred purpose – to grow closer to God. Whether we choose to believe it, we are all on a journey. The trail winds and wiggles through this world, often obscured from view, but life’s deepest questions are answered along its gravel. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus frequently puts his schedule on pause to restore and rejuvenate his spirit. His disciples, too, are called to this task. Look at them. They are weary from preaching, teaching and healing all day. Their daily planners are bursting at the seams. But Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
My walk on the Camino is about me slowing down after a busy seven years of ministry. It is also a time for me to be quiet and listen to God and the deep passions of my heart. I invited several people to walk with me and our schedules did not collaborate. I am walking alone and looking forward to each step along the way!
As summer begins, why don’t you plan a pilgrimage? Maybe into the Snowys? Or Tetons or Big Horns? And why don’t you go into the woods and beauty with the intent of being silent and listening for the still small voice of God? Where in your life do you need some rest? Has your passion and excitement for Christ and pursuing his way of life on earth as it is in heaven lost some of its energy and urgency?
I look forward to hearing how our pilgrimages transform our lives!
Cultivating Transformational Leaders,
Equipping Christ-Followers to Go into the Neighborhood,