Pilgrimage is an ancient term for journey. Often associated with spiritual journeys, many of us set out without knowing that’s what we’re doing. Catching a game at all the major league baseball parks, walking the Inca trail, standing in the ancient home of our ancestors, or visiting the birthplace of an organization like the famous Hewlett Packard garage, are all forms of pilgrimage.
It can either be a casual and spontaneous trip, thoughtful and intentional, or some of both. We come to pilgrimage in our own way. You may wish to take this journey alone or join others. You may think you’re tagging along with a friend only to find something deep stirring inside you had not anticipated.
My first conscious, intentional pilgrimage was in May of 2014. My experience with cancer had brought everything up for review. I was about to turn 59; an age I felt warranted purposeful celebration. I felt a longing to reflect on my life to prepare for initiation into the next decade. I longed for clarity about my purpose and how I wished to be of service entering my 60’s.
The pilgrimage took me to Chartres, France known for its labyrinth and Black Madonna – two things I’d casually explored and was interested in learning more about. It is also a stop along the Camino de Santiago, a famous route that pilgrims have been walking for centuries through Spain and France.
This longing I was feeling, as I was to learn, is the first stage of preparation for pilgrimage. It is this very longing that propels us to move out of our comfort zone, beyond fear, and into the Great Mystery.
By its nature, the journey will stretch us. Pilgrimage can be an actual journey or used as a metaphor for something we are experiencing in life. Both invite us to explore new areas within where we don’t know the language. We are invited to move out of what’s familiar and into a state of discovery, inquiry, and curiosity – the landscape of transformation.
Questions to consider:
What is your longing at this time in your life?
What is stirring in you that you are resisting or pretending not to notice?
Without criticism, judgment, or limiting beliefs about what you think you are capable of, welcome it all. Be present to whatever it is and invite it into your heart. Relax into your longing and see where it takes you.
If there is a longing in you to explore the deep feminine in your own nature, there are still a few spaces left in Women at the Well – A Pilgrimage to the Mystical Wells of Ireland.