We Go on Pilgrimage
By Stephanie McKellar
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
There is an expectation and a hope.
And also, anticipate it.
There is trust, an expectation that God will show up to where we have shown up.
But instead of dictating how the response and presence of God will show up,
and instead, simply arrive
in openness, in waiting, and in brutal vulnerability.
The road will rise to meet you.
Needs will be clarified, and provided.
New strength will be accessed.
Disappointments may come.
Certainly interruption, inconvenience, and delay.
“Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.”
We go on pilgrimage
to create space,
to arrive at a place
where the sacred has touched down,
where pilgrims before us have heard the voice of God.
We go on pilgrimage
trying to show up
to prime the pump of imagination, openness, and courage,
hoping for an encounter with the living God
that will transform the moment
as well as our lives back home.
Encounter is why we go,
what we hope for,
craving a drink of the living water itself.
Where are the spaces where God resides
the courts, the temples, the sacred spaces?
They are there, where we go and arrive.
But they are also along the road itself,
in the midst of the community with whom we travel,
in the midst of the journey we walk,
in the midst of the story we live and breathe.
Encounter along pilgrimage cannot be prescribed or predicted,
but you will know it when it hits you.
God will find you and meet you where you are.
Encounter side effects (may) include:
A sense of profound insight.
A ritual that provides transformation.
A healing of body and mind.
An experience of awe, mystery, fulfillment,
or perhaps a sudden, sharp, astonishing release of joy. (150, Sacred Journeys)
However it comes to you, however the presence of God meets you along your pilgrim journey, an encounter will involve a hearing, a knowing, a moment of clarity that will restore your soul, give you peace, hope, and a confidence that the goodness of God is true and available to all.
It need not be loud, sky-parting, or earth-shattering. It may only be recognizable to you. It may only be recognizable in the stillness of your soul once it has been disconnected from its usual patterns long enough to find stillness.
But the encounter will somehow meet you.
The encounter moves beyond the intellectual and cerebral knowing, and is met in our bones and being, sinews and spirit, giving us a rootedness in the confidence that God is near, God is good, and God is love, and that the love of God is unwavering, the compassion is limitless, and the work for justice is certain.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; bestowing favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.”
Scripture from Psalm 84, NRSV.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
“Lectio Divina,” Latin for “reading divinely,” is an ancient practice of reading and praying with Scripture. It is a practice that was developed mainly by monks, but can be used by anyone. Lectio Divina with Psalm 84:
“Lectio” Read the passage slowly, letting the words pour over your soul.
“Meditatio” Read the passage again. Notice any word or phrase that resonated with you.
“Oratio” Offer the text to God in the form of questions.
“Contemplatio” Finally, simply let go of everything. Set a timer for three minutes as you observe a period of silence.