Seeking inspiration.Desire new perspective, a change of mind.Studying various spiritual paths (and footpaths!)Learning methods of meditation.Deeply questioning their lifes purpose.Purifying their hearts; confusion giving way to clarity.Want the time and setting to concentrate on a particular subject.Doing penance.Want to be in harmony with the natural world.Spiritual adventurers, or just like to be on the road.Want to calm their minds and find peace.Are singers/writers looking for something to sing or write about.
In his book ‘Through Painted Deserts’ Donald Miller opens with the conceptof “leaving.” He explains the spiritual importance for him of making a simplemove from Texas to Oregon. It opened up a whole new world for him—new places, new perspectives, new people. It made him appreciate going back home so much more. It taught him to not just rely on the familiar—to adapt, grow and change. At some point in our lives, we all need to leave home.
Recently, I heard a speaker talk about meeting with the father of a missionary who was in Africa, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and so forth. The fatherwas frustrated with the son who had left home on this radical adventure insteadof paying off his loans and getting a “real job.” A few minutes later, the other son came in upset & ranting, “I am so annoyed!”. Andrew asked why. “Because he’sout there ……. doing it!” the brother said. “He’s really doing it & I’m stuck in this office!” Why was he so upset? “Because he never left home,” Andrew told us.
This recalled a 15-day trip I took to Mexico in January ofthis year. I was visiting a group of young peoplewho, disenchanted with American church, left for a yearlong journey around the world.Imagine this—50 North Americans willingly selling theirpossessions and leaving the comfort of their homes insearch of abundant life. That’s this group—the WorldRace—and they’re still out there.
Seth Barnes, founder of theprogram, describes it as “acommitment to a transformationaldiscovery process. The World Racetaps an ancient human compulsionto take a spiritual pilgrimage.”Now, there’s a forgotten practice.At least in western culture, we’velost the art of taking some time togo on a journey to figure out whatlife is really supposed to be about.
We’ve sold our souls to careers tracks and our family name to theburden of college debt. One day, we’re laughing with somefriends at an all-night café, cramming for a final exam so we cangraduate, and the next, we’re thrust into the real world whereeveryone is expecting something different us. If we’re notcareful, it’s easy to lose our desires amidst all those expectations.
“Most young people have more questions than answers,” Barnesexplained. “And what better place to find them than on apilgrimage.” The irony of this pilgrimage is that as they go anddiscover more about themselves, it becomes less about themselvesand more about seeking justice and redemption in the world.Through the hospitality of strangers, they’re learninginterdependence, that we all need each other and not one of us hasit “all figured out just yet” (to quote Alanis Morisette).
I started making my own mini-pilgrimages about a year ago todowntown Nashville to eat lunch with the homeless. As they tell metheir tales, I learn so much about myself—about brokenness andhope. I learn what I really need and how much I can actually dowithout. I learn that life–real life–has little to do with possessions andmostly to do with people.
I can’t fully express how important it is to leave home. This is not aconcept to be debated—it is something tangible to beexperienced. Only then is the importance of pilgrimage fullygrasped. Once you’ve seen the sun set differently or eaten dinnerat an unusual time or faced someone whose lifestyle contradictedyour own, then your worldview begins to expand.
This is necessary, if we’re to be the kind of people we’re destined to be.We’re naturally inclined to think that life is mostly about us—ourcomfort, our stuff, our welfare. We can’t expect our flesh just to “getit”; we’re not that intelligent or that good. We need something to wakeus up, jostle us out of bed and set us on a path towards home. That’sthe great irony of this—a pilgrimage, the act of leaving home, actuallyleads one home, though it is never where one started.
A pilgrim must be a child who can approach everything with an attitudeof wonder, awe and faith. Pray for wonder, awe, desire. Ask God to takeaway your sophistication and cynicism. Ask God to take away therestless, anxious heart of the tourist, which always needs to find thenew, the more, the curious …
“We go on pilgrimage so we can go back home and know thatwe never need to go on pilgrimage again. Pilgrimage hasachieved its purpose when we can see God in our everydayand ordinary lives”. ~ Richard Roh
“Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when itgoes in search of its dreams, because every second of thesearch is a seconds encounter with God and with eternity.” ― Paulo Coelho, Alchemist
“We are travellers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling anddancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, tomeet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of whatshappening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. Thats the worlds greatest lie.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked. "Because, wherever your heartis, that is where you will find your treasure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
“Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strongcurrent that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist