To be a pilgrim

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If you could drop everything and go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? It might be somewhere as far away as possible, or somewhere you have special memories of, or maybe somewhere with special meaning.

This week we are thinking about being a pilgrim. A pilgrim is simply someone who goes on a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is a special journey to a special place. Within Christianity there are many places that people would go on pilgrimage to, including places in the Bible, Lourdes, Rome and of course Canterbury cathedral.

One of my best friends went to Jerusalem last year, and she went to many of the places that are mentioned in the Gospels about Jesus. The places have given her a much more real understanding of those Gospel stories and you can’t mention any of the stories without her saying ‘I’ve been there’ but I’m not sure that she would say it was a pilgrimage, it was a holiday where she visited places important to her faith.

The special thing about a pilgrimage is that it is actually more about the journey than it is about the place. It is about specifically taking time away from the normal everyday life and things, to go to a place, and to develop as a person in faith. Many pupils in the past have taken part in the Easter Monday youth pilgrimage to Canterbury cathedral, and I have heard many say that it wasn’t necessarily the planned bit at the cathedral that was the highlight, but the walking together with other members of their church, and other churches along the way.

The pilgrimage is the journey, not the destination. Our entire lives are journeys with highs and lows, sometimes they seem a bit mundane and sometimes they seem crazy and really difficult. It’s always good to look back and realise where you have been and how you have got to where you are.

The thought for the week says
The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn’t think to ask

In September I started a course to answer a very specific question that I was struggling over, and had been struggling over for some time. During the course that question was answered but so many more questions were asked and answered as well. I learnt so much about myself, and this was mainly because I took the time to answer that one question in the first place.

The challenge with pilgrimage is taking the time out of the busyness of life to go somewhere, but to go there on a journey rather than just arriving at a destination. Yes there are specific places which are considered holy within Christianity but this could be somewhere special for you.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you journey with us and we pry that we will take the time to specifically walk with you and spend time with you on our journeys. Amen

Challenge: plan a date when you can go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury cathedral (or somewhere else of your choosing) but don’t just get a bus/train to Canterbury choose one of the many walking/cycling routes – and make sure you let me know if you do manage this one!

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