Friday, July 3, 2009

Coax the Pilgrim Soul Out of You

By Sr. Mary Jo Chaves

As many of you are aware, Joy Wallace and I will be leading a Pilgrimage March 4 – 15, 2010 to Rome and Assisi. You are most welcome to join us! It promises to be an experience that leads you to the center of your soul and spiritual journey.

You may be wondering what it means to go on a pilgrimage rather than a tour. There is quite a difference according to Doris Donnelly in her article: “Pilgrims and Tourists: Conflicting Metaphors for the Christian Journey to God” (Spirituality Today 44 (1992):22). Pilgrims perceive an internal dimension to pilgrimage while tourists are concerned with the external journey only. Pilgrims invest themselves; tourists avoid personal commitment. Both the journey and the arrival are important to the pilgrim. Only the arrival matters to the tourist. The focus for the pilgrim will be affected by the pilgrimage. Tourists seek to remain untouched on a deep level by their experience.

The difference between a pilgrimage and tour might be best illustrated through this Zen story. A river boat captain often took people across a large river to visit a holy shrine. The people on the boat could not wait to get to the shrine. After visiting the shrine, they would board the boat again and tell the captain how beautiful the shrine was. One day one of the visitors asked the captain if he had ever visited the shrine. He replied: “No, I am not finished seeing what the river have to offer yet.”

What is it that we might miss seeing as we go about the pilgrimage of our daily life? In these beautiful summer days that we are enjoying here in Portland, have we stopped to notice the beauty of creation all around us both during the day and during the night? I love to watch children in the summer. They run through sprinklers with absolute delight; they attempt to catch butterflies; they giggle as they notice the antics of a puppy or kitten playing in the sunshine or rolling in the grass and they sleep soundly after a day spent in the beauty of creation.

I invite you to become like a child and just notice. Be a pilgrim. Coax the pilgrim soul out of you!

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