A Sacred Journey, Part 3-Coming Home, A Strange Return


I’ve been blessed by this invitation to guest-blog at A Sacred Journey and share some of my thoughts and reflections on pilgrimage and Iona.  Today’s post is the last of my three-part series as the “Pilgrim in Residence.”  In this piece, I share what I have sifted down as the essential impetus for going on pilgrimage, but a value that can only be confronted upon returning home.  We leave searching for something great and beyond ourselves.  We return to find that much of what we had left in search for, is found just beyond our doorsteps when we engage and live on behalf of something other than ourselves.

I invite you to read, and reflect with me on the gift that pilgrimage both brings about for our souls as well for the greater communities all around us.

Click on the image below to be taken to the NEW POST at A Sacred Journey.




Other and the Future

Woodcut of a pilgrimage (c.1490)

This post initiates me into the blogosphere universe and I find that I am both excited and apprehensive.  Like that of any new journey, the excitement comes from a seat of knowing that there has been much preparation and direction to get to this point and the time has now come to cross the threshold (into the blogging world, that is).  The tension to the thrill is held by trepidation; I mean, what if these words, thoughts and stories mean nothing to all of you who inhabit these virtual landscapes?  This nagging fear of the unknown, quite honestly, slows my poised fingers as they hover over the keyboard.  There is great risk when one travels with transparency and journeys out from places of comfort.  But, I have a strong sense of solace knowing that without these steps away from what is known and familiar, that which is HOME to me will never expand and challenge me to continue to become all who I am intended to be.

And that is really quite it; that is what I have been thinking about, reading about and talking about for years: in what ways are we intentionally living (for the sake of metaphor, insert ‘journeying’) out our lives so that when the pilgrimage cycles commence and begin again, we are engaging in this dynamic cycle of calling, departure, arrival, to—ultimately—Home again. It is this sense of Home that is compelling to me.  Of course we have our structural residences, but I’m talking about the conceptual framework of this internal habitat. What is it that is so familiar and comfortable that it is like home to us? What does it look like?  Who are the neighbors?  Who lives and visits within the walls?  What meals are shared?  Who do we encounter on our Journey that is brought into the hearth of our Home and how does this simple act of hospitality create a culture of common good?

One of the ancient principals of pilgrimage was that the pilgrim was journeying on behalf of something.  Whether that was a prayer, a petition, in penitence or even traveling in place of someone who couldn’t make the trek themselves, there was an elemental understanding that the journey was taking place on account of something, or someone, far greater.  This positioned the pilgrim to travel in such a way that employed a keen eye and an astute ear; no longer were there such things as trivial events and random people.  The value of fellow pilgrims and strangers alike was considered great, so much so that every encounter was acknowledged as a source of wisdom and possible enlightenment.  The significance of ‘the Other’ was recognized as a sacred way marker and seen as a critical component to a journey well made.

So here it is, and this is the hopeful intention of Waymarkers: the blog.  Our lives are a pilgrimage.  Each of us has been called to journey thoughtfully and intentionally through our days.  We are asked to see the sacred all around us, but specifically in those other than ourselves.  What exactly does this mean?  It really is as simple as it sounds: anyone OTHER than you.  This includes those that don’t look like you, act like you, live like you, or think like you.  We are called to see them, travel with them, and yes, even live on BEHALF of them.  This process of linking Other to our self begins the transformational unfolding of Other becoming Neighbor, and ultimately, in practicing the universal command of “Love your neighbor as yourself”, becoming your self.  For when this conversion occurs, we suddenly cannot look away from the injustices and pain experienced by those other than ourselves, for it is now happening to US.  We now journey forward on behalf of a common good for ALL.

And how does the Future fit into all this?  The Future isn’t now and it certainly isn’t what was, so why concern our self with it at all?  Well, in a very real sense, the Future is Other to us. Our modern Western culture certainly has made great strides in our era, but a monumental failure was its inability to assimilate indigenous people’s capacity to see forward and understand their behaviors had long-term implications.  This ‘seven-generation sustainability’ concept has its origins with the Iroquois people. This ‘Great Law of the Iroquois’ maintained one should think seven generations ahead (a couple hundred years into the future) and decide whether the decisions and actions they made would benefit their children, and children’s children, seven generations into the future.  This is a call and a challenge that we need to heed today; this view transmutes the Future, and our ecological concerns, into today and makes it a ready companion to our every action.  It becomes our neighbor.  It becomes our self.  It becomes our HOME.

There it is folks.  These are the foundational themes to this blog.  Am I excited about thinking aloud with you all around these topics?  Absolutely!  Am I scared that I may not get it right and my own personal stories of living on behalf of Other and the Future might not be your version of virtue?  Yes.  There is that tension mentioned earlier again…but my hope supersedes this.  I pray that by inviting you into my HOME you too will help hone me. That by saddling up together on this journey of life, we will see one another and our stories as sacred.  That by living forward in ways that see the Future as important as today, we will all seek out that which is the common good for us all.  And we will get lost; one most certainly does on a trek that carries with it much treasure.  In these times of uncertainty, in these straying seasons, may we return to our God-given travel mates—Other and the Future—and ask them for guidance.  May they be our way markers that point us all towards HOME.