Holy pilgrimage is like walking toward a light, shining far off.
How can we find that stillness … that light shining within?
There is the walking and the listening. Where we’re looking while we walk. What are we trying to find, and how do we think we’ll get there?
Ann Voskamp tells of a woman who wanted to buy a lot of beautiful things. But gradually her focus shifted:
As this woman began paying attention not to what she could buy, but to the beautiful, broken people around her—the things she couldn’t buy—she gained that beautiful inner light that drew people to her.
Her journey wasn’t about distance but depth and the transcendent beauty of a life lived lovingly.
Still, sometimes it’s the walk that brings us closer to the light—as if a physical journey is necessary to take us past obstacles that are in the way. A hero’s journey lived out on paths we struggle through that sometimes look like anything but light.
Everyone’s journey is a little different. Mine looks more like Jacob’s, struggling with God all night and refusing to let go until he’s blessed.
I look with a little envy at those intuitively wise souls, flying over the rocky chasms and landing right where they need to be, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. Those who heard the voice of God and simply followed it.
Think of Margery Kempe—the very ordinary, earthy, 14th century middle-class working woman Margery Kempe. Married off at 20, living a very prosaic life as a wife and mother of no less than 14 children. Christian mystic. Avid pilgrim. Author of the first autobiography in the English language.
How did she know? With 14 children yammering at her (however adorably), how did she hear the voice of God so clearly?
“If you go slow enough, you’ll get there.”
It’s great advice for a pilgrimage journey. We tend to think success comes mainly to those who get a move on. Who cut to the chase. And yet often, the slow and steady tortoise arrives ahead of the run-all-over hare.
It isn’t sexy, but often success comes in life because someone kept plodding on. It’s about persistence. The willingness to keep showing up.
Truly, I’m going slowly enough on this holy pilgrimage through a Holy Week devotional (even a good one), and it’s so much like my pilgrimage through life. It’s filled with stops and starts, slow plodding. There’s the occasional graceful bounding-ahead, filled with clarity, but more often…there’s me, getting in my own way.
Life happens, and I stop looking ahead.
I don’t know how some people are able to consistently BE in the moment, right where they are, and yet move forward with clarity and peace. And for me, à mes yeux, that’s part of what holy pilgrimage is: shedding the noise, the clutter, that keeps me from being where I am ... from really hearing the voice of God and of the people right there with me.
To spiritually be still in the silence of what’s most real.
So I persist ... slow and steady.
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