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)