I've been out of the Friday Five habit lately, so here's an attempt to get back in the groove...
ReverendMother writes: Hello friends, I am just back from a lovely time of pilgrimage in the isle of Iona, "cradle of Scottish Christianity." It has provided much food for thought, to say the least, and so, to keep the pilgrim mojo going:
1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage? I don't know that I thought of it as a pilgrimage at the time, but my trip to Brazil was powerful in ways I never could have anticipated. I saw the Milky Way with my naked eyes while sitting on the banks of the Amazon River in a native village, I saw the mountains and beaches of Rio, hiked in rainforests, watched parrots, tucans & pink dolphins (among other wildlife), ate new foods including ants, and met so many different people. It was a number of experiences that touched my heart and soul and showed me more of God than I had ever noticed before.
2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage. I'm sure this is an obvious answer, but I would love to go to Egypt and Jerusalem and those places where biblical history played out. But it's not so much for love of the Bible, as it is a sense of connection to place - there's something about being in places that are old and have seen so many events and people that is deeply stirring. I felt this way when I was at Stonehenge and Roman ruins in England as well.
3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience? I think stuff can be distracting, but I would take my camera (which never conveys the experience well but does help me remember what I felt while I was there) and my journal to help me reflect and process the experience.
4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about this close to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer) Well, this may be another cop-out answer, but I would say Buddha (or Siddhartha Gautama). I have always been fascinated by other religions and Buddhism in particular really speaks to me and I would love to hear his insights on the modern world, reconciling the differences in our religions, and his perspective on life in general. I'm not sure where out pilgrimage would be - perhaps my biblical lands trip or going around Asia to Buddhist sites - either one would be great with me!
5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don't mind me, I'll be over here taking notes) Well, if I had the answer to this, the possibilities.... I can only say that I attempt to keep in touch with the memories of those experiences I have had through pictures and rereading my journal. Reading entries about my dad's death still stirs up those feelings and insights I had when it happened, and photos of views over Guatemala still stir feelings of awe and wonder (not because the photos are great, but because it reminds me of being there. There just isn't a substitute for the experience and it's inevitable that those feelings fade. We can't live all our lives in a heightened state - it wouldn't mean anything, but we can take the time to make sure that we continue to have those experiences that put the rest of life into perspective - this is the purpose of sabbatical (and why it's so important, especially to those in ministry and serving others).