On pilgrimage

I think I can safely say I will never walk the Camino de Santiago. Too, too crowded, for one thing; like a bandwagon by now. Too, too long and physically complicated at my stage, for another.

So why did I just read two books* about Camino pilgrimage? Well, some women I know are considering the trek and one had a book that I later spotted in the thrift store, with the other book beside it, each like new and only a dollar, and you know how it is, you read a few pages and it’s interesting and you keep going and before you know it you’re caught up in the author’s quest, and two books later you feel you’ve twice walked the whole long thing yourself, minus blisters. It’s almost as good as been there, done that.

So, no, I won’t cross Spain in real time on real feet, but I am compelled by the notion of pilgrimage. One of the earliest books I recall as read to me by my mother was a child’s version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. The stages of little Pilgrim’s journey through the Slough of Despond to the Wicket Gate to the Cross and places along the way such as the Palace Beautiful, Doubting Castle, Vanity Fair, the Delectable Mountains and so on, to reach the Celestial City at last, are still burned in my mind. Whether allegory like that or a physical practice, pilgrimage describes a truth about any pursuit — it’s a journey with a start and a finish and a road between. Since I’ve been doing memoir-type writing lately, I find pilgrimage a useful way to think about life.

 

* Jane Christmas’ What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim and Hape Kerkeling’s I’m Off Then.

 

10 thoughts on “On pilgrimage

  1. Love this one, Dora, and also the previous. I’m also on my journal journey, a pilgrimage itself, as you point out. It was so good to share that journey all those years ago, and how I would enjoy walking a few miles together again. I can manage 3-5 fairly well.

    Mary Ann >

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  2. Posted per wish of Leona Dueck Penner: Thanks Dora. As usual, your post got me thinking: perhaps the first pilgrimage I was on, happened exactly 62 years ago today, on August 15, 1956 when my family & I as a 12 year-old, moved from the flood plains of the Red River Valley to a beautifully hilly & wooded land in western Manitoba, about 200 miles away. It was the longest trek I’d ever been on and I had no idea where we were actually heading. But I was very excited about this journey, loved the long drive which included a picnic lunch & a stop for ice-cream; and I just couldn’t wait to get to the destination. Thankfully, it was all I had dreamed it would be and eventually, led me to the “prince” I would marry. So that journey definitely had a transforming effect on my life and perhaps planted the seeds for my life-long love of “pilgrimage” (I always find myself inwardly pronouncing that word in Chaucerian English after studying Canterbury Tales years later!) and led me on quite a few more. Several of which lasted from 4, 5 & 6 years at a time in three different African countries which transformed my life profoundly. But these days, I have little desire for long-distance travels & keep my pilgrimages much shorter, knowing that I’ve already “been there, done that,” and can now draw inspiration from past journeys as long as my memory lasts! Leona

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  3. A wonderful piece again, Dora. The journey of life – a pilgrimage. I dare say I have had a few blisters and stubbed my toes on the occasional rock!! I do remember Pilgrim’s Progress from younger years. It really stayed with me; such a captivating and powerful allegory.

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