Unless you’re an experienced globe-trotter, travel can often feel intimidating. A pilgrimage can add a whole new layer of anxiety into the mix. We frequently hear questions such as: What does pilgrim mean? Am I spiritual enough? Knowledgeable enough? Good enough? All of these questions are completely warranted.
Traveling to new places, while also engaging with your own spiritual journey, can sometimes feel overwhelming. But rest assured, if you feel like you are the only one asking these questions, we just want to say that you’re in good company. In an effort to answer some of your questions and calm fears, we’ve written this blog to help you understand just exactly what we mean when we say “pilgrim.”
Who is a Pilgrim?
Being a pilgrim isn’t about the number of pilgrimage sites someone’s been to, nor is it a measure of one’s spirituality. Rather, stepping out as a pilgrim is always about the spirit within our hearts.
The truth is, before we ever leave our own doorsteps, we are all pilgrims—yes, all of us.
Being a pilgrim is all about a spirit of adventure and a willingness to discover God’s voice in your life. It’s this same feeling which drew the very first pilgrims away from their homes, beyond what had become the ordinary to renew their ability to experience a greater appreciation for God’s creation. And with every earthly experience to discover more of what it means to walk spiritually with God.
So, if you’re asking yourself the question, Am I really a pilgrim? ask no longer. By reading this article, you are allowing your inner pilgrim to shine through. Simply recognizing that you are a pilgrim is one of the very first steps to growing in your ability to grasp each day with a sense of wonder for the lifelong adventure in which God is leading.
The Spirit of a Pilgrim
Far too often in the routine of everyday life we cease to be curious. We sleep through sunrises, rush home from work during sunsets, and our minds are often absent in conversations with one another. Every day we pass up opportunities to recognize the sacred.
Everything about pilgrimage interrupts this temptation to mindlessly pass through life. Though we may find it easy to become occupied with a list of endless responsibilities, pilgrimages usher us into a slower pace where we rediscover our natural inclination to explore and appreciate the unknown. Instead of finding ourselves stretched by hectic work schedules and relational stresses, we find ourselves uncovering the clarity that comes with “pressing pause.”
That’s why pilgrimage isn’t ever about collecting qualifications but instead is always about renewing the unchanging desire within each of us to recognize sacred beauty all around us.
Travel Differently — The Three Characteristics of a Pilgrim
When we see ourselves as pilgrims, the way we travel is transformed. No longer are we only going for beautiful snapshots in far away places, but we are also eager to lean in to all that God may be wanting to show us.
Here are three ways that being a pilgrim allows you to travel differently:
1. A Spirit of Discovery
Traveling as a pilgrim means a willingness to learn spiritually from what you discover. It’s this same spirit which drew the very first pilgrims outside their homes away from the ordinary.
As we pilgrimage with a greater appreciation for God’s creation in mind, we have a deeper desire to see God’s hand in our lives. For us, travel goes beyond destinations. As pilgrims, every new location is an opportunity to grow and learn about God, self, and others. We can sense God’s presence both in ornate churches and on strolls down ordinary side streets.
2. A Contemplative Pace
If we are not careful, it becomes increasingly easy to move through our travel at the same pace we travel through everyday life—rushed. But while we may perceive that a faster pace unequivocally means greater productivity, it also frequently means sacrificing our ability to be present— to the world and others around us.
When you see yourself as a pilgrim, you get to practice a new pace which allows you to dive deeper into each of the locations you visit. Instead of just seeing beautiful scenery, you’ll experience the opportunity to open up both your mind and your heart to be fully present for what God is teaching you through his endless artistry.
Whether you’re visiting a holy site or savoring a sweet pastry at a French cafe, by allowing yourself to take a contemplative pace, you’ll begin to see the world with more dimension— to take a deep breath and really appreciate the world around you.
3. Finding Sacredness in the Simple Things
Even in our simplest tasks, we often find ourselves searching for meaning and purpose. What we can often forget when we are moving too fast is that there is a sacred purpose in the simple things in life.
When we go on a pilgrimage, we are more keen to recognize the small sacred moments all around us. Maybe we will notice the sweet smell of the flowers in a field or the kindness of a person in passing. No matter where we are, when we allow ourselves to go throughout life with a spirit of adventure, the more frequently we will find ourselves spotting the sacredness of everything around us.
When we say “yes” to listening to His voice in holy spaces, we discover that He invites us to walk with Him every day. Whether we’re on a walk, a morning commute, or sitting next to a loved one, we’ll experience a transformed view which allows us to feel the sacred presence of God’s guidance all around us.
So come along with us. We’d love to have you join us for one of our Verso Pilgrimages.
No matter where you are in your life’s journey, know that you are always welcome to join us. These principles can be an opportunity for you to join a community that is also continuing to learn and grow alongside one another. The standard is not about being perfect, it’s about a willingness to learn and grow, which means that anyone, even you, can embark on a spiritual pilgrimage.
Our hope is that through meaningful, intentional pilgrimage, you’ll be able to connect with new spaces and rediscover old ones. But no matter where you are, we also hope you’ll find yourself experiencing a renewed passion for continuing to discover the beauty of God’s creation all around.