Pilgrimage Planning Step 8:

Where does Reflection fit in to the 8 Pilgrimage Planning Steps?

There’s a saying “Begin with the end in mind.” That’s the primary sense in which Reflection is genuinely an aspect of planning.

Any intentional pilgrimage, particularly a long one, will bring with it many insights and experiences we never expected. No journey can be fully known by the very human traveler walking it.

In Koine Greek, the biblical word for “sin” is “hamartia.” It carries a sense of missing the mark—as with an archer aiming at a target. Aristotle also used it in his Poetics to denote an error in judgment that leads to the hero’s downfall.

A pilgrimage is begun with some aim in mind, whether that’s remembrance or a struggle toward God or a love of history. The target itself may evolve as we walk, and “failing” to hit it may not have tragic consequences. After all, journeys are not static things.

But building in the intention toward Reflection in our pilgrimage planning makes us conscious of a need for humility in our travels—a willingness to change and grow. To admit there are things we don’t know yet.

Plan to learn from your journey.

“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.”

— John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress

Pilgrimage Planning in Retrospect

The military designed an after-action process to enable the larger body to learn from the experiences of soldiers in the field. A similar process is used in many organizations interested in evaluating their own action-oriented processes. Mine used it to fine-tune field and support processes for international disaster response.

While pilgrimage is a peaceful journey (and hopefully one without disasters!), pilgrimage planning recognizes the pilgrim’s quest as an active process. Whatever you’re doing, for whatever reason, you’re not staying where you were. You’re looking for something. 

Pilgrimage is a journey with intention. A quest.

So it’s to your benefit to reflect and consider things like…

  • What went well?
  • What can be improved and how?
  • What do I know now that I didn’t when I started?
  • How have I been made new?
  • What do I want to do differently now because of my pilgrimage?

 Let the journey change you!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Inspiration for the journey ...

California Missions Trail

The California Missions Trail is probably the longest and best-developed North American pilgrimage route. It includes 21 Catholic missions, many still active.

Step 3: Inner Preparation

We don’t just carry with us the weight of our backpacks and bodies. What we carry in our minds & hearts travels with us. Inner preparation for pilgrimage...