Pilgrimage and the Contemplative Stance
By Denise Crane
As challenging as the pilgrimage experience of preparing and going and returning is, it is as challenging a process to re-enter your life.
“Here I go, back to my everyday life,” and yet…not.
Re-entry never places you back in quite the same life. A journey has been experienced—for some the experience is profound and life-altering—for some the experience seems less profound and seems less life-altering. But, whether you come to the recognition as part of re-entering or you come to the recognition in a much further-down-the-road “aha” moment, pilgrimage alters your life. Somewhere along the way a shifting has occurred. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes much, much more subtle. Such is the work of the Spirit—the wild dramatic whirlwind of recognizing or the subtle gentle breeze of elusive nudgings that seem always to be on the edge of your peripheral vision.
The re-entry is about making time and space. For reflection. For feeling. For asking questions. For talking and sharing and unpacking. For holding the internal space open to hear what the Spirit is saying. For revisiting pictures, journals, thoughts, emotions, and tangible mementos.
This can take as many forms as there are pilgrims.
If you have never seen a spiritual director, you may consider sitting down with one. The purpose of spiritual direction is to deepen your relationship with God. A skilled listener will help you find themes that recur in your own stories. If that feels uncomfortable as an option, reach out to the person on pilgrimage that you feel closest to and share and reflect.
You have invested your time, effort, and attention to go on a pilgrimage journey. What God gives you as part of that journey is a gift. Only you can decide how you want to continue to open it.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
When we choose to make ourselves available to something as profound as an intentional spiritual pilgrimage, there is an expectation that builds within us. How will I be different? What will I encounter? Who will I find? The contemplative stance invites us to release those questions. To have the courage to bring our expectations and release them is a spirit born of practice and love. What is asking to be released in your life?