Over the past two weeks I’ve been talking a lot about my upcoming Pilgrimage to Iona and inviting you to join me.
But if you’ve never been on pilgrimage before, you might not know much about the practice (change that here and here), let alone when it’s time to go on one. If you’re intrigued by the practice but don’t know where to start, here are five signs it’s time to go on pilgrimage:
1. You’re in a time of transition
To go on pilgrimage is to cross a threshold—from life as it was before your departure to life as it will be upon your return. That time in between is liminal space, and it’s not so different from the in-between seasons in times of transitions—from college to the “real world,” from a full house to an empty nest, from one half of life to the next. What is different, however, is the intention that pilgrimage invites during these often stressful and uncertain times. In fact, pilgrimage celebrates these seasons, because it is precisely at this threshold that transformation can occur (the theme for our 2017 Iona Pilgrimage!).
2. Your spiritual life feels stagnant and you’re ready for inspiration
A pilgrimage is not only an opportunity to leave the monotony of your everyday life and seek adventure—it’s also an invitation to breathe new life into your spiritual journey and experiment with spiritual practices. As we travel beyond our borders, both internal and external, we learn more about our true selves and are stretched to experience God in new and enlivening ways—ways that will continue to influence our journey for years to come upon our return home.
3. You’re in a season of waiting and you want to use that time with intention
Not so different from those times of transition or feelings of stagnancy, seasons of waiting can make it seem as if life has been put on hold while deep inside we’re longing for movement. In such times, the practice of pilgrimage offers an invitation not to escape the waiting, but instead lean into it. By fostering curiosity about what God is conceiving inside us, as during the season of Advent, the practice of pilgrimage encourages us to draw near to the Divine in this season of darkness as if drawing close to a warm flame, transforming our waiting as we learn not to lose patience, but instead keep vigil.
4. You’ve experienced a loss and are ready for new life
Whether it’s the loss of a job, a marriage, or a loved one, seasons of grief can leave us feeling isolated, disoriented, and far from God and our true self. In times like these, the practice of pilgrimage offers the opportunity to both honor what has passed and realign ourselves with who we are and what we long for as we seek to make a way forward under the loving direction of the Sacred Guide.
5. You have questions and are longing for answers
As Phil Cousineau said so well in his book, The Art of Pilgrimage, it is our questions that lead us to our quest. In a world that prizes certainty, it’s easy to ignore our questions or send them away with simple answers. These questions, though, are just like a beach ball, and when we push them underwater they just come back up—and with force! Pilgrimage, however, not only welcomes your questions—it demands them. Your questions serve as a compass for your journey and will guide you down the Path of the Pilgrim. As your journey comes to a close, you might not find the answers you were looking for; however, if you seek to befriend your questions and learn from them, you just might find the answers you really needed all along.
While you might not necessarily identify with one of the reasons listed above, there’s one final sign it’s time to go on pilgrimage: You feel the call. If an opportunity comes across your path that you feel you can’t resist or you experience a sudden inspiration that fills you with life, the invitation is there—the only thing left to do is respond.
If you’re feeling that call now I’d love to have you join me on my upcoming pilgrimage to Iona. There are limited spots, so don’t delay. Plus, SAVE $200 when you register by September 30. Learn more »
What’s calling you to pilgrimage in this season?