Friday, April 08, 2011

Pilgrimage

I've been promising further reflection on several experiences from Project Israel, and I haven't forgotten about them. For better or worse, I've been rather distracted lately with finishing certain pieces of business at Bethlehem, specifically the groundbreaking for the new building on Palm Sunday, and taking care of managing the transition to my new appointment. More details on that to come, later too. (promises, promises...)

One thing I have kept asserting to everyone I've talked to since I got back is that this experience was not merely a trip, but a pilgrimage. While I fear coming off sounding snooty, as if my experience was somehow on a different plain unattainable by others, I do believe that the purpose of our journey was specific enough to warrant the designation.

This was not a vacation, although I did find the change of pace restful in its own way. Nor was this merely an educational experience, although I learned a tremendous amount. To paraphrase our guide, Peter Miano (who runs the Society for Biblical Studies), a pilgrimage is unique (specifically, different from commercial sightseeing) because the places you visit require investing something of yourself. These places ask deep questions of you, and the experience of the journey changes you in some fundamental way.

Or, to quote Paul Elie, "the process of pilgrimage is how we take others’ stories and, while remaining faithful to them, make them our own".

I hope to finish a post these further reflections in the next week (otherwise Holy Week will do me in and put them off God knows how long) and share a bit about how these places challenged me with some deep questions, and how these others' stories have now become part of my own.

1 comment:

Teri Nilson said...

I am late with mine, too... but I think something like this experience cannot be summed up too quickly and needs time to percolate.