I have been a traveler for as long as I can remember.
Whether by plane or a good old-fashioned road trip, I have spent a lot of my life traveling to diverse places and discovering new cultures. I took my first trip abroad with my mother and grandmother when I was eight. We spent over a week in London and the surrounding area, where my world was opened to different sights, unfamiliar sounds, and new experiences. (Take toast racks, for example. I love how they lend such refined presentation to a simple breakfast.)
As I grew older, I continued to travel, both in the United States and abroad. My deep affection for seeing the world was solidified, however, on my first trip to Europe without my family. As I journeyed on whim from place to place after my first year of college, my pack on my back and my passport in hand, a seed was planted: my passion for travel. This seed was watered soon after with a semester abroad in London, more traveling throughout Eastern Europe, and a gap year spent in the “Jewel of Africa”: Uganda.
While my passion for travel continued to grow, another seed was taking root within me and wouldn’t let go: my yearning for God. As I continued to travel to places beyond my borders, experiencing things different from my day-to-day, my spirituality began to stretch as well. I began to sense the presence of God in new ways and grew hungry for spiritual encounter. I yearned to encounter God in everything, most of all when I was in the transformative circumstances presented in foreign territory. I found that my journeys continuously informed my spirituality, and my spirituality was, in turn, impacting my journeys.
The two seeds that were planted so long ago—my passion for travel and my yearning for God—had grown into resilient and wild vines that were now intertwined. But the intertwining of spirituality and journeys is not just a reality for me. I believe this is true for all of us.
WE ARE ALL ON JOURNEYS
We are all on journeys that take us beyond our borders and inform (and are impacted by) our spirituality. Sometimes our journeys are literal, but we journey in many other ways as well. We journey through careers, relationships, ups and downs, highs and lows. We journey through obstacles and toward accomplishments. We journey through seasons of life and formation. We journey from birth through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and eventually death. And as we traverse this terrain, we all ask the same essential questions, whether we know it or not:
Who am I?
Who is God?
Where is God?
What is the meaning of life—
In the bigger picture?
In the day-to-day?
What makes me come alive?
What do I long for?
These are Sacred questions, and when we ask them with intention and actively engage the search that burns within us, our journeys are transformed. These Sacred questions that guide us today have been the shared questions of humanity for thousands of years.
PILGRIMAGE: A SACRED JOURNEY
Throughout history, those who asked these Sacred questions with intention and actively engaged the search that burned within set off on pilgrimages: journeys of Sacred Encounter. These literal journeys brought pilgrims beyond the edge of the day-to-day and into foreign territory that called forth the vulnerability through which Sacred Encounter and transformation often occur. (Curious? Read my history of the practice of pilgrimage here.)
The practice of pilgrimage is alive and well today, beckoning a new generation of seekers to journey beyond the edge of daily life into terrains of mystery, wonder, revelation, delight, acceptance, and transformation.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
No matter the itinerary or location, pilgrimage is a Sacred journey—a movement that brings us toward the Divine. It is a journey embarked upon with the intention of encountering God and experiencing transformation. Pilgrimage speaks to a longing for something more and a faith that something beyond ourselves can be experienced if we are open to the search. To live as a pilgrim—whether at home or abroad—all you need to do is see your life as a journey and your role as a seeker of the Sacred.
Now it’s your turn to ask the questions that will initiate your quest and actively engage the search that burns within you. What will your sacred journey be?