April 17 - Beginnings

Pilgrimage Day 1.

We are on the flight from Seattle to Paris as I write.  I have been thinking a lot about pilgrimages and how they are different from vacations or tours.   A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey.  A pilgrim is looking for something.  It could be as simple as a renewed relationship with God.  It could be an answer to a desire, a prayer, or a question.  The history of Christianity is filled with stories of people making  spiritual journeys.  The Desert Fathers journeyed into the deserts of Egypt desiring to leave city life behind and focus on God.  Helen, an Empress of Rome, journeyed to Jerusalem seeking the True Cross.  Among other treasures, she brought back a barge load of dirt so she could pray every day in (on?) the Holy Land.  St Francis journeyed to the Middle East to follow a call to make peace between the Islamic people and Christians battling for possession of the Holy Land.  Thousands of people made a similar trip after the Crusaders “liberated” the area.  Protestant believers striving to find a land where they could worship in peace sailed across the Atlantic and settled in Massachusetts Bay Colony.  We know them as the Pilgrims. 

Matthew's Gospel ends with Jesus’ resurrection and the instruction for the disciples to return to Galilee where they will meet Jesus in person.  As we begin our Pilgrimage to France and Spain I encourage you to define a Spiritual Blessing you desire. 

For me, there is something wonderful about getting to know my predecessors in faith better by being where they lived, breathing the same air, walking the same roads, seeing the same vistas.  It makes the stories more real for me.  By experiencing the places they loved, I become part of their stories. 

Romantic?  Maybe.  But it is the same reason many people are travelling to New Zealand to visit Hobiton or the beaches of Normandy or the fields of Gettysburg.  Being there helps us humans to make ourselves part of the great stories of time.


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Pilgrimage to France and Spain

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