Dear Friends,

As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.

Today's Meditation features Richard Rohr reflecting on being Pilgrims, not Tourists. It reminds me of when I worked as a hospice chaplain, one of our Hospice Volunteers who did everything for patients, from driving them to doctor's appointments or shopping to fixing simple things around their home or sitting and visiting as they shared their journeys.

When I told him how much I admired his way of being present, he said: "It is all part of building the cathedral." He saw his life as a cathedral that he was building and he lived with that kind of being in touch with God inside himself and inside those he met. Don't miss the story from the CAC community at the very end. I also really enjoyed the line: "on Pilgrimage, people are changed through the simple act of walking" Have a lovely pilgrimage walk today!

We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION: Richard Rohr: Pilgrims, not Tourists

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Week Ten: Pilgrimage

Pilgrims, Not Tourists

We continue sharing excerpts from Father Richard’s 1983 talks on pilgrimage. In this presentation in Lourdes, France, Richard offers some historical background on the practical actions that pilgrims had to take before they underwent a spiritual pilgrimage.

By the high Middle Ages, there were all kind of books written for pilgrims. These were spiritual books guiding pilgrims as to how to prepare themselves. Preparation was required before they went on pilgrimage.

First of all, you had to make amends with everyone you had ever wronged. Also, if you went on pilgrimage holding any kind of unforgiveness, it could not be a good pilgrimage. You couldn’t leave your town until you’d forgiven everyone who’d ever wronged you. Certainly, this is an attitude that we can pray for at the beginning of any pilgrimage: that God would keep our hearts open and loving, because a pilgrimage can’t just be a tourist trip. The meaning of a pilgrimage is an interior journey. Primarily, it’s an interior journey enacted exteriorly.

Richard shares his hope that his fellow pilgrims embark upon such an interior journey:

When we return home in three weeks or less, if no interior journey has happened, we really haven’t made a pilgrimage. Understand? We’ve just been tourists. We’ve traveled around and said, “I saw this, and I saw that, and I bought this,” and so forth. But that’s what a tourist does, not a pilgrim. And God has called us on pilgrimage.

Secondly, and a practical, interesting thing, is that if they were going to go on pilgrimage, pilgrims had first to ask permission of their wife, husband, and family. The idea was that they had to leave everything in right relationship at home. If they had any material debts, they also had to pay those before they left. They couldn’t go on pilgrimage until their spiritual and physical debts were paid, and they had permission from all the right people.

Next, they had to go to confession before leaving. Sometime in the course of a pilgrimage, celebrating some kind of reconciliation was deemed very appropriate. Again, there’s that cleansing, that letting go. Perhaps those of us who’ve already been down to the Grotto [1] have seen the basin of water on the far end with the words that Mary spoke to Bernadette. It states, “Go wash your face and cleanse your soul.” What a symbol of reconciliation! It’s a prayer. Above all else, pilgrimage is praying with your body, and it’s praying with your feet. It’s an exterior prayer, and the exterior prayer keeps calling you into the interior prayer.

For ecumenical leader and author Wes Granberg-Michaelson, pilgrimage invites passionate spirituality:

Pilgrims move in two directions at the same time—an outward direction toward a holy destination and an inward journey seeking an encounter with the sacred. Two of the best academic scholars of pilgrimages, Victor and Edith Turner, explain it in this one sentence: “Pilgrimage may be thought of as extroverted mysticism, just as mysticism is introverted pilgrimage.” [1] Pilgrimages, they suggest, were, and are, no walk in the park, or plain, or mountain. Embarking on such a journey, we become untethered not just from our physical normalcy. These uncertain, trusting steps also move us out of our spiritual familiarity. The pilgrim is invited not only to walk out of boxes of dogmatic beliefs, but also to walk away from practices of comfortable spirituality.

In their own context, this was a reckless spirituality, a form of extroverted mysticism…. For most, this was a once-in-a-lifetime embodied quest of spiritual abandonment. In the words of the Turners, “pilgrimage was the great liminal experience of the religious life.” [2]

For today’s pilgrim it can be the same. A pilgrimage is a rejection of modernity’s expectations and assumptions about time, place, perception, satisfaction, speed, predictability, and the material world. As in ancient times, motives for contemporary pilgrimages are mixed. Lines between pilgrimage and tourism become blurred for some while breaks in employment prompt others to a pilgrimage more than a thirst for embodied forms of holiness. Yet pathways that move simultaneously in inward and outward directions prove irresistible to throngs roaming pilgrimage paths today.

The embodied movement of pilgrimage is an opportunity to step outside our habitual rhythms with God:

The Spirit yearns to break out and to break open our old practices, our protective shells of comfortable spirituality, connecting our inner selves more deeply to God’s love and to God’s world. Your soul no longer stays still. It’s moving with God in the world, and moving toward God, revealed in signs or shrines or saints or surroundings. The pilgrim’s walking body holds incarnate this inner journey of the soul.

[1] The Grotto of Massabielle is the place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, On Pilgrimage: Lourdes, Holy Land, Assisi, Rome (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014), CD. No longer available for purchase.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 2, used with permission. Les Argonauts, Camino de Santiago, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper, Winter Bird. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

On pilgrimage, people are changed through the simple act of walking.

Story From Our Center for Action and Contemplation Community

At my 65th birthday party, I asked dear friends to help me dream up the next chapter of my life. Global service? Spanish immersion? A month later, my daughter announced that she was pregnant. My daughter lives with cognitive and emotional challenges, and I knew that she and the baby would need help. Then, her baby was diagnosed with autism. I realized that God’s call was not to some global adventure, but to the sacred, sometimes painful and always humbling, walk of helping my daughter and her son to live their best lives. —Lynn P.

Upcoming Events

On Wednesday Evenings during Lent, we will meet from 7-8PM on Zoom using the poetry of Wendell Berry to reflect on Lenten themes.

On Wednesday March 15, at 7:00 PM on ZOOM, Fr. Yaroslav Nalysnyk, Pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain will speak to the community on the War In Ukraine. We have been channeling our donations to the People of Ukraine through him.