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2005 True Life in God Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage is not just about traveling; it is also about seeking. The true pilgrim is actually trying to find a way home. Pilgrimage is associated with religion because ultimately our home is with God, our Creator. Pilgrimage expresses the call we experience within, a call which could be put into one word, expressed as an invitation:
What we might call the pilgrimage of life itself has many turnings: right and wrong; cross-roads; winding, dangerous roads; broad, apparently easy roads; cul-de-sacs with warnings, and blind alleys. Within this greater pilgrimage there are smaller ones: journeys to biblical countries and holy places; shrines, famous monasteries, etc. All of these travels are undertaken to keep us mindful of that deeper call which is not just about life after death, but the here and now.
We are almost like characters in a fairy tale; seekers after the legendary Kingdom, searching for the wisest and noblest of Kings, for the place of ultimate peace and joy where we have the most sublime sense of well-being. Yes, we know we seek Heaven, but the Kingdom is being opened to us in our daily lives with all its drudgery and challenges by the King Himself Who comes from His heavenly Throne to seek a humbler one; the human heart.
The Pilgrimage that produces fruit is the one that we travel in humility and love. Frustrations, delays, excess heat, chilly evenings, insects, thirst, and hunger are just as necessary as good company, laughter, wholesome food and prayer. A pilgrimage is not a holiday, as many a priest is forced to explain to his parishioners, even if it is billed as "pilgrimage/holiday." A holiday is meant to be a time of rest; on the other hand, a pilgrimage is meant to reflect the journey of life itself and so involves struggle, hard work, and determination. Aspects of self-discipline, such as being on time, become more than bothersome. They are like little lights illuminating aspects of human weakness. In the context of a pilgrimage human weaknesses show up in selfishness, laziness, rebelliousness and carelessness. At the same time, some people shine. Such are the "salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13).
These, and so many other things, become aspects of the Kingdom, which in this life is like a vast field consisting of both wheat and its counterfeit tares, or darnel. We hope that one of the graces of pilgrimage is the wisdom to know the difference both in ourselves and in the world around us. This means that one of the most important invitations within a genuine pilgrimage is the call to repentance.