Friday, August 03, 2007

On Pilgrimage


It’s Friday and I haven’t posted in forever, so to get things started, here’s the Friday Five meme from Reverendmother at RevGalBlogPals.

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage?
My trip to Poland in the spring of 2001 to study the Holocaust was a pilgrimage. Our visits to the concentration camps and ghettos were pilgrimages within the pilgrimage. Each person in our group had burdens related to the trip: German or Polish ancestry, military service, having been raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and so on. The two most powerful moments for me were standing at the execution wall in Auschwitz and at the monument in Treblinka. Two among many.

2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage.
There are a couple. One is Iona, the site of Reverendmother’s recent pilgrimage. The other is almost literally at the other end--of the world, and of the spirituality spectrum—Uluru, Ayer’s Rock, in Australia. On Iona, I think I would want a solitary, contemplative time with community worship from time to time. At Uluru, I’d like it to be more meditative. I would love to experience both sunset and sunrise at Uluru; maybe spend the night between in prayer. I wouldn’t climb it, as Uluru is sacred to the local people.

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience?
For Uluru, I would take a journal to write in and nothing else, in keeping with the spare and simple nature of Uluru. More I think would distract me from hearing. On Iona, I would take some sacred objects and create an altar—which is part or my usual practice for a retreat, to create an altar specific to the retreat.

4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about thisclose to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer)
Hmm. This is actually kind of difficult, because I tend to prefer solitary retreats and pilgrimages. Maybe St. Francis in the next hut?

5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don't mind me, I'll be over here taking notes)
Well, my hope, aim and theory is to take back a practise that I can use regularly or at the very least remind myself of how it felt to follow that practise. From my retreat in October, I brought back different eating habits and the realization that I can live without a watch or clock. I try to do the latter every once in a while, but wow is it hard here in “the world.”

And I just realised that I have been looking at the pilgrimage as a retreat, which is not always the case. I know that from my pilgrimage to Poland I brought back many souvenirs; I have preached and written about it many times. So perhaps that’s it—remembering it through words and pictures, sharing that experience with others so that they also have a sense of what it was like. So one way is to tell others. As we do in my church, the mystery of our faith being “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Go and tell!”

Added note: For those of you unfamiliar with it, here's a link for more information on Uluru.


reverendmother said...

Wow, just wonderful answers. I like the next hut over idea. Not too much togetherness!

Mother Laura said...

Powerful, thank you so much. (And for the prayers).

mompriest said...

My huband's family is from Poland, although they migrated here before the Holocaust, but that is a pilgrimage I would take. Of course I'd do a lot of weeping...

I've never heard of Uluru, so thank you for sharing this place. A very thoughtful play, RBP.

Diane said...

thank you for sharing your pilgrimage to Poland.

hope you get to the ends of the earth.

Clarence Darrow--Beyond Scopes and Leopold & Loeb

Personalities fascinate me--people do. One way I try to understand history and places is through people--which is why I love good histor...