Friday, August 28, 2009

Pilgrimage as a Way of Life

Dear Angelic Blog Buddies:

I want to share inspirations I am receiving from reading a great book by Jim Forest. The book is: The Road to Emmaus; Pilgrimage as a Way of Life. Jim is going to be at Bon Secours Spiritual Retreat Center here in Maryland on October 10th. Jim resides in the Netherlands.

I have always been intrigued with the consciousness of being a pilgrim on a spiritual path. We are all truly on pilgrimages with every step that we take. I see our life as "the road" or "the path".

I have participated in many angelic adventures where I have actually made a pilgrimage to a sacred site or shrine and have come to recognize that they are simply enhanced experiences of what is occuring every day.

I am going to share here some of the thoughts Jim shares in his book. They are stimulating and thought provoking for me, and it is my hope that they may trigger some contemplation for you, too.

Human history is the history of roads.

Both the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are a celebration of roads. For Tolkein, it wasn't roads in plural but simply the Road.

Walking and praying while you are walking is a spiritual practice of a pilgrim.

"The fundamental action of a human being is walking upright." - Benedicta Ward, To Be A Pilgrim.

When we make time for prayer at the beginning and end of each day, with islands of prayer, however brief in between, daily life becomes an event of a pilgrimage.

One of the hallmarks of pilgrimage is an attitude of silence.

"We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature, trees, flowers and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon and the sun move in silence." Mother Teresa

Saints mirror to us lives that were on a constant journey and the pilgrim's road is not an easy one.

St. Teresa of Avila, a true pilgrim, was the target of passionate opposition from the church hierachy. Her writings were the subject of investigation by the Spanish Inquisition. "I am really much more afraid of those who have so great a fear of the devil, she wrote in her a autobiography, "than I am of the devil himself. Satan can do me no harm whatever, but they can trouble me very much."

The Celts refer to a place where ordinary matter seems charged with God's Presence as "thin places." It is where the veil is thin. Jim discusses Iona, Scotland as an example of one of those thin places.

Just as we experience places of great light on our pilgrim's path, we also experience dark places and dark paths, i.e. battlefields, places of tortue or mass execution; the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family.

Jim also writes about the spiritual support offered by relics and labyrinths. Many of you know I have a deep fondness for both. Additionally, Jim discusses how an illness can become a pilgrim's journey for us.

Jim also includes Thomas Merton's words from Mystics and Zen Masters. Merton mirrors the thought of regarding our life as one continuous pilgrimage; filled with inner and outer journeys.

"The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer journey. One can have one without the other. It is better to have both."

This past weekend I had the joy of listening to a woman convey her experience as a pilgrim on the path to Santiago de Compostela. She was on the path for over a month,which included walking over mountains. She indicated that at the beginning of her pilgrimage, she shipped a lot of items home as the key was to carry as light a load as possible.

It was wonderful hearing how the people of the villages are supportive of the pilgrims. I have read of people walking this pilgrim's path; however, it was inspiring to be sitting at a table hearing someone who did it, and to experience her sharing what the experience was for her personally.

At the conclusion of the pilgrimage, there is a church where the pilgrims receive some sort of document affirming their accomplishment. There are masses held throughout the day which both tourists and pilgrims can attend. This precious woman shared that in celebration of her accomplishment she attended three masses. She radiated with the joy of fulfillment of a huge spiritual goal. You could tell that the document didn't matter to her; she was on her own God-high. I experienced God-high energies from just listening to her.

I am certain all of us have had God-high moments in perhaps exotic and far-away places. You may have had a pilgrimage experience going to New York City and seeing a Broadway show that changes your life in a literary way. These experiences are exhilirating and memorable. And equally grace-filled are the simple day to day joys of walking with God as we fulfill our daily tasks. It's all encountering God wherever we are; whatever we are doing.

Angelic blessings to you, fellow pilgrims on the road of life. May your life be lived with a divine consciousness that you are walking with God every moment; every second; every heartbeat and breath.

Love in abundance, Jayne


  1. Just a word of appreciation. It was an adventure writing "The Road to Emmaus."

    Another book on pilgrimage that I would recommend is one that I'm reading now -- "On Pilgrimage" by Jennifer Lash. It's out-of-print but used copies can be found via such web sites as

    The Road goes ever on...

    Jim Forest

  2. "I have always been intrigued with the consciousness of being a pilgrim on a spiritual path."

    I arrived at your blog in a very roundabout way, following the twigs on the path that ultimately pointed to you. I'm so glad I did because I look forward to continuing to read you. You may be interested in stopping by my blog, "Pilgrim Soul."