Pilgrims are Persons in Motion

Pilgrims are persons in motion – passing through territories not their own – seeking something we might call contemplation, or perhaps the word clarity will do as well, a goal to which only the spirit’s compass  points the way.

Richard Niebuhr

I love walking and especially early morning just after sunrise or late afternoon just as the sun begins to dip horizon way. Even better if my walk is in early spring or late autumn. In those seasons, and at that time of day, there is often a still, warm quality to the light whose colours and clarity invite me into another place. As balance shifts between the folds light and shadow, a boundary emerges between the here and the not quite here. A contemplative and thoughtful space.

‘Pilgrims are persons in motion’. Along the road to Emmaus the disciples discussed as they walked as fast as they could back to the safety of the village beyond the events in Jerusalem. This was a walk away from a City, a walk of despair and confusion until their conversation with the other Person. Transformation! Clarity! Hearts burning with the Good News.

Pilgrimages have their own boundaries, their own beginnings and endings. Each day, each segment of each day, is located in a here and a now; place merging with time as the walking progresses from this field to that hill to the road beyond that. In the walking a rhythm takes hold. Motion becomes a litany of stiles, hedgerows and signposts. Pilgrims in motion seeking and watching, discussing and discerning, looking always for the signs on the ground, the markers on the map. Did we not know the way? It was all explained to us before we started and it all seemed clear and dandy then.

By whose compass are we walking? Pilgrims walk to the points of the compass as conversations rise and fall in sync to the rhythm of boots and breathing. The landscape is our contemplation but how does it translate to the map? “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road?” Perhaps the burning clarity is the mark of the Spirit’s compass; a clarity we shall come to rely upon as we journey to Canterbury.

Pilgrims

Pilgrims to the Promised Land;Will their journey sink in sand?

Stories shared along the way Following what the signposts say.

 

Or do we wander on our own By shifting breezes quickly blown?

Escaping from those ties that bind; Pressures that confuse the mind.

 

Pilgrims never know their route; Only God’s directions now will suit.

Prodigals, frightened, far from home; Through the land of giants they will roam.

 

Timid, forgotten refugees In tiny boats and stormy seas;

Cared for by God in all His grace; Guided to a safer place.

 

Stranger, pilgrims, friends and brothers Denying self and serving others.

We share this journey, me and you Finding God’s directions to be true.

(www.poemsofpilgrimage.me.uk)

 

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