Tuesday, January 29, 2013


A long time ago (okay, just shy of three years ago...I had a blogging dry spell for a while there) I started a one-word project: I asked people to give me one word as a writing prompt, and I would write a blog post inspired by that word.

Since I'm busy at the RevGals Big Event this week, contemplating writing as a spiritual practice, it seemed like a good time to resurrect the project.

So I'm thinking about pilgrimages--journeys, often with some degree of difficulty--to a special place in search of an experience of the Holy. I kind of love them. So much so that I will occasionally use the word to talk about simply going to inspiring places that aren't easy to reach. For instance, I used to say that Whole Foods was a pilgrimage for me. It's 45 minutes from my house, and once you navigate the directions and the traffic and the bad drivers, you find yourself in a place of wonder and ideas and hope.
(we'll leave out the part about the political ideology of the owner of the corporation, and the prices in that place...)

Now, of course, I work just 5 minutes from that Whole Foods. So my place of pilgrimage has become potentially ordinary.

And there's an interesting idea...what happens when the experience of wonder, of the holy, of inspiration, turns from something special and difficult to reach into something ordinary?

I know many would say that it makes it not special. This is the usual argument against weekly communion, for instance--that if we do it all the time, it's not special. But that's not quite true, is it? There are lots of special things that are made more special by their frequency, not less. Little-kid hugs, kitty snuggles, tv shows, movies we like to watch over and over, walks in the park, conversations with friends. Hopefully we do these things frequently enough that they become a part of us--like Taize music, where the melody and simple words are repeated so often that they become part of your unconscious prayer.

Maybe finding ways to bring a little something of the pilgrimage into the everyday is part of what it means to pray without ceasing?

another aside: I do value the idea of pilgrimage to holy places, and have participated in several and even led one. The pilgrimage in the Holy Land, or in the northern holy land of Scotland, or in Rome, have all been meaningful times in my life. I'm planning a Reformation pilgrimage to Germany and Switzerland even now. But still I wonder: can I bring the experiences I had in those places into my everyday awareness? And if not, is there value in that pilgrimage experience, or was it just another trip?)
coming down from the top of Mt. Sinai, toward St. Catherine's monastery--home of the burning bush

with a bunch of people seeking an experience--or any variety of experiences--on Iona

the arms of holy mother church (!?!?!)--from the top of St. Peter's Basilica

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