What is a pilgrimage?

by Brandon Wilson

A pilgrimage is the act of deliberate travel; traveling outside while traveling within. It is a chance to reconnect with the earth, to listen, to face your inner self, to actively commune with a greater power.

A pilgrimage is a refuge from the din and clutter of the outside world. It is a unique dimension to appreciate life’s wonder and revel in its minutiae. It is the heady aroma drifting from fields of thyme, or the drone of bees in a sun-dappled forest. It is autumn frost blanketing a multi-hued trail, and the rough grain of your walking stick rubbing against your palm.

A pilgrimage is time devoted purely to the present. There is no past, no future, only now. Your world is your breath, a heartbeat reverberating in your ears, a Zen-like placing of each footstep along a well-trod path.

A pilgrimage is a trampoline for the mind, a purging of the soul. It is a thousand small moments. It is unexpected acts of kindness and fleeting revelations. It is surrendering to fate, spontaneity, absolute unknown, and small arrows that mark your way.

A pilgrimage is often a solitary journey. Yet as we traverse this portal between past and present, we pay homage to those who have gone this way before while leaving our essence for those who pass long after we are gone.

A pilgrimage is traveling lightly. Just as we leave most of our worldly belongings behind, on the trail there is a gentle unraveling of fears, emotions, desires and demons as we surrender unwanted psychic baggage to the universe.

A pilgrimage is letting go, then discovering, and in truth be found.

A pilgrimage is peace personified, one deliberate step at a time. When serenity is found within, how long can our world remain without?

Each pilgrim’s journey is unique. It can never be repeated. Yet it continues long after we return home to distant shores. They become our passion, our reasons for being.

© 2021, originally appeared in the anthology Pilgrimage Chronicles: Embracing the Quest. Brandon Wilson is a peace pilgrim, author/photographer, explorer, Chevalier of the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Follow Brandon on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BrandonWilsonauthorexplorer

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