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Friday, July 6, 2018

7 pilgrimages you can go on right now

7 pilgrimages you can go on right now
Not all successful pilgrimages involve journeying far away.

There are many ways to practice pilgrimage. You can journey far away to a sacred site, but there are also options within reach of a walk or drive from home, or even within your own imagination. Keep in mind these three essential aspects to create your own pilgrimage experience:
  1. Begin with an intention and prayer or blessing for this time.
  2. Stay open to the ways God might break in through the unexpected.
  3. When you return, spend time in reflection on how this experience has touched you. What new discoveries or invitations did you hear?
Walking is a wonderful way to get out of our heads and into our bodies. If mobility issues prevent this, know that imagining yourself walking to each suggested site can have the same impact. God is present to us in whatever ways we are able to receive the sacred. 

Make a local pilgrimage 
Chances are you live near a church or perhaps even several churches. You could choose to make a pilgrimage to your local cathedral. Using the three essential aspects, make it a sacred experience by blessing the journey there, paying attention for divine whispers along the way, and then reflecting when you return home. You might look up the church calendar to see if there is an upcoming feast day that feels especially appropriate for your journey and let that shape your prayer. 

In a more urban area, plan a walking pilgrimage from one church to another. Research the churches and map out a route. Look up the various saints they are dedicated to and write a note for each of them. Offer a prayer to each saint as you make each stop. Spend 15 minutes in silence at each of the churches. Listen for what is offered to you. Remember that what can feel like interruptions or disruptions to your plans may contain the sparks of an encounter with the divine. 

If you live in a rural area, still try this suggestion out, but you may need to drive between sites. Try keeping the car radio off to maintain an atmosphere of quiet reflection. 

Begin your pilgrimage by reading the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) as a blessing for this time. Listen along the way for how the holy is being revealed to you. 

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