Forty Days a Pilgrim

07-08-WalkingtheLabyrinthWouldn’t it be wonderful to embark on a Lenten pilgrimage? Here’s my plan:

In the Middle Ages, pilgrimages were popular. A group of people who may or may not have known each other ahead of time gathered, traveled together, stopped at shrines/altars to offer prayers of beseeching or thanksgiving. They were led by a monk/friar/priest, who read to them and encouraged spiritual conversation. Their travel was (ideally) a deliberate, spiritual one.

I’m creating a virtual pilgrimage during the forty days of Lent. We start at a newly created Facebook group: Forty Days a Pilgrim. The travelers are assembling as we speak.

Once gathered, we’ll start our journey on Ash Wednesday. This will be accomplished via labyrinth walks. Find one near you, or make a finger labyrinth, or…? I’ll provide detailed labyrinth instruction, in case some are new to the practice. Twice a week, I’ll send a labyrinthian meditation (I have books with great ideas – I’m not that clever all by myself.) 🙂 You’re free to use them or not, as the Spirit moves you.

Our spiritual leader will be Barbara Brown Taylor. Her book, An Altar in the World, will make a wonderful focal point for our travels. It’s available via Amazon or other bookstore (I have a Kindle download in addition to a hard cover) and it’s readily available in libraries.

We can read a chapter a week (not too arduous) or more if the group decides. We can take turns choosing a chapter. As we read, we can talk together on our Facebook page.

We’ll share prayers. We’ll share ‘travel.’ We’ll share our lives. I would love if we could even – via Skype or FB or something – share a meal or two! People are already ‘assembling’ from around the world.

Everyone can choose how much or how little they wish to participate. There is no pressure, no expectations. No one will be keeping score. We’ll just be journeying together and loving one another.

I hope that by honoring the way of the pilgrim, we’ll leave Lent as changed people – at least in little ways. (I can hope for total life transformation, right?)

So, what do you think? Are you ‘in’?

Labyrinth of Fir and Fern

labyrinthI hiked ten miles during a recent camping trip. It was hot and I was tired (and thirsty – I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be water available at the highway trailheads we passed) but I felt deep satisfaction in knowing I could complete a long day’s hike. 

The next day, Tali and I took a two mile stroll through the woods, following a path that twisted and turned and led ever upward. As I turned around to retrace my steps, I realized I was traveling a labyrinthian trail. I stopped.

“Divine – whatever you are, whoever you are, IF you are – show yourself. Not so that I will believe, because I don’t think you ever obscure yourself. I think – no, I believe – you are visible, if I can only have eyes to see.”

I looked around. I saw firs, ferns, tiny maples. I remembered the majesty of the aspen grove we walked through the day before. I remembered when, long ago, I received these words: Look at nature. Look at the trees, the hills. Wrap yourself in them, because it is my love extruded into the world.

My deity is not a god of deserts, but rather, one of forests and hills, of vineyards and fields. So long have I searched for home, but in that moment, I realized I’ve never been homeless. I am a child of the Willamette valley. I carry it within me, and in so doing, also hold the divine, who is visible within and without.