I have just come back from a short holiday in France. It was a bit of a nostalgic pilgrimage for me and my husband Pete. On our honeymoon 30 odd years ago we hired a boat on the Canal Du Midi and spent a lovely time boating, eating lovely local food and the odd glass or two (!) of the local rosé. This year we revisited some of the towns that we had visited and reminisced about how very little had seemed to have changed. But with all rose (or should that be rosé) tinted memories they are not always accurate and on closer inspection and in the clear light of day, we could see the changes that had occurred – some good, some bad and some indifferent.
We also visited historic places of worship, some of which were on the ancient pilgrim’s trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and we even eavesdropped on one of the services being held for modern-day pilgrims in the cathedral in Toulouse.
It got me thinking about pilgrimage – the dictionary definition is:
Pilgrimage: a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay homage.
It struck me that we are all on some sort of pilgrimage, whether it is a pilgrimage to work every day, or looking after the family. Whether we have more leisure time or have caring responsibilities. We all have a destination that we are moving towards and sometimes it is good to stop and reflect on the changes that have occurred during those pilgrimages. For me, as a Christian, the gift of life is an amazing gift that we have been given by God, so living our lives, whatever our circumstances, to the full, is a pilgrimage towards the sacred place that we reach when we die, and finally know God as God has known us throughout our lives.
I haven’t always been a Christian. My journey to faith and then to ordination has not always been a bed of roses, it has been a pilgrimage that involved pain, sacrifice and loss. But it has been a pilgrimage that has given me so many rewards too, (not least serving here!) and I can honestly say that my life has been so enriched by walking this part of my journey with God. So perhaps as you have time to reflect on your personal pilgrimages, could I commend the pilgrimage prayer to you, and hope that your journey is one that is blessed with light and love.