Spirituality of Place

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In Chasing Francis, Ion Cron  explains that a ‘pilgrimage’ is a “way of praying with your feet.”  One generally goes on a pilgrimage “if you feel there is something missing inside your soul, and the way to find it is to go to sacred places … places where God made himself known to others.  In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.”

He further introduces the concept of “spirituality of place” where something mystical happens through spiritual energy of past events (is a special place) to you, the pilgrim.  He uses the example of going to Yankee Stadium with his uncle.

I had such an experience in 2004 when my wife and I visited Copenhagen.  I had not been there in 40 years.  But prior to that we (my Danish parents and I) would spend 2 weeks vacation time there every year.  It was and still is quite safe to walk the streets of Copenhagen.  My parents would allow me to leave the hotel at 11:30 am and walk to the ‘Old Fort’ and catch the King’s Guard marching down the streets.  I would walk beside them all the way to Amalienborg Slot, the Royal family’s castle in the city where the ‘changing of the Guard’ takes place everyday at noon.  When the king was home there would be a band playing, as well.  If it was the King’s birthday the Guards would change from their blue uniforms to their red dress uniforms and have a large parade through the city.

After so many years it was like stepping back in time.  Hearing the orders being ‘barked’ out, the clicking of their heels on the cobblestones, and following the visitors as the soldiers worked their way around the square in the castle brought back great memories and it was extra special this time because I was sharing the experience with my wife.

I am willing to bet that you, too have experienced a similar ‘spirituality of place.’

We are only 2 weeks away from our “Chasing Francis pilgrimage.”  I am not certain what to expect.  I do not necessarily believe that there is ‘something missing in my soul’ but perhaps there is.  I have determined to be open to what God will do in me.  Already, by reading Ian’s book and ‘When Helping Hurts’ I sense a yearning for even a ‘deeper’ prayer and quiet time, as well as a need to somehow begin ‘simplifying’ our lives and doing ‘something more’ to help the poor, especially in our community.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2: 11-14)

Chasing Francis

“Chasing Francis is written in a genre called wisdom literature, which is a very delicate balance of fiction and nonfiction, pilgrimage and teaching.” Ian Morgan Cron wrote this very witty and engaging novel apparently after much research and gives credit to many authors whose writings or ideas influenced passages in his book.  There is a study guide at the end of the book to help us get the most from his book and he encourages us to get on line at www.chasingfrancis.com to learn more about Saint Francis.

“Chasing Francis is not a history or a spirituality book, though it contains elements of both.  It is a novel that touches a little something in the inner troubles of most of us who try to follow Jesus faithfully in a modern western environment.  Delightful!”

JOHN  MICHAEL  TALBOT, founder, spiritual father, and general minister, The Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage

“By guiding us to wrestle deeply with a crisis of faith experience and by re-introducing us to a giant of faith, Ian Cron paves for us a path of grace, humility, and ultimate joy even through our “ground zero” darkness.  This is a life-changing work.  I now find myself “chasing Francis” in my life as well as in my art.”

MAKOTO  FUJIMURA, artist/writer, New York City

Having read Chasing Francis myself, I too feel that Ian touched on something that has been tugging on my heart.  There is a part of me that feels I have not been truly satisfying my thirst for God.  I desire to somehow make more of an impact in “my world” for my Jesus who gave his all for me.   Does “my world” see me as being different in any positive way or am I so much like the world that I am not making an impact?  How many of you upon introspection feel the same?