There are a lot of great reasons to go on a pilgrimage. But what happens when you return? How will you be changed? In other words, what are the benefits of going on a pilgrimage?
Here are our top five:
1. See God and Scripture Differently
It’s impossible to see the town where Jesus grew up, to walk the same path pilgrims have been walking for centuries, to gaze up in awe at the art in Rome, to touch the healing waters at Lourdes, or gather with millions of youth at World Youth Day without it affecting the very paradigm through which you view the world.
Every place reveals something different. When you walk the Camino, you’ll come to know better the God who is within you, who speaks to you as you pray, walk, and reflect. As you venerate the saints in Rome and experience the arts, food, and culture, you’ll be reminded that God is full of life. Places in the Bible will come to life in the Holy Land and you’ll feel God drawing near. These experiences will sear themselves on your mind, heart, and spirit, and will be with you as you go through this pilgrimage of life.
2. Return with Renewed Focus
Travelers have long recognized the ability of places far away to take you out of your everyday life and return home with a new perspective. How could it not? The beauty of travel is to explore the world wide-eyed, to ingest the sights, sounds, and foods of a new place and let it affect you. And while you’re in a new place, distance from what’s typical often sheds new light on your life.
Pilgrimages add another layer to travel — spiritual focus.
Leaving your day-to-day grind is an opportunity to alter the priorities of your mind and heart. Which means where you choose to go and what you choose to do makes all the difference in how travel will change you. Pilgrimage provides the setting, experiences, and insights so that real, spiritual change is possible.
Many pilgrims come back reporting a call to start something new, repair a broken relationship, invest more in their spiritual life, and so many other things. What will a pilgrimage do for you?
3. Come Back with a New Community
Even if you go with people you know, your community simply won’t be the same when you return. And if you join a group of new people, these relationships will surely last beyond your few days together.
When you see them you’ll have an unspoken bond. An experience that you don’t have to explain or even talk about to share. And often, the conversations you have during a pilgrimage are about life back home — relationships, work, family, faith – which will continue once you return. These conversations can be picked up again with those same people, and the memory of what you talked about while dining in Rome or walking the Camino.
Your fellow pilgrims will help keep the pilgrimage alive. When the daily grind takes over, you’ll have people to remind you of your experience, what happened, and why it was truly life-changing.
4. If it’s Your First One, Discover the Beauty of Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage doesn’t have to be a one-and-done endeavor.
In fact, once you’ve come back from a pilgrimage, you’ll realize that pilgrimage is an experience that, like travel, you can do over and over again. Each time you’ll experience something different, even if you go to the same location! God’s story of his work in this world is so deep, you’ll never exhaust its riches.
In many ways, even after just your first international pilgrimage, you’ll see what we call the “pilgrimage of life” differently. The way you move through the world on an international pilgrimage can translate into the way you move through your daily life. Stopping to notice things you’ve never noticed, integrating spirituality, learning, fellowship, and culture each day, being prayerful and contemplative throughout your day – the list goes on. All of these things will feel closer and more accessible after a pilgrimage, and you’ll have the memories of your pilgrimage to guide and energize you as you do them.
5. You’ll Never be the Same
Everyone’s pilgrimage experience is different. And it might seem like a grand catchall, but the truth is that, in ways big or small, you’ll remember the trip for the rest of your life. For some, they weren’t sure about such a spiritual journey in the first place, and it opened their eyes to the benefits of going on a pilgrimage. For others, they were searching for a deeper spiritual experience and the pilgrimage was, in fact, that catalyst. But wherever you fall on the spectrum, we promise you you’ll be different when you step off the plane back home.
Curious about what you might experience after a pilgrimage? Discover where Verso is traveling and find out for yourself.