Have you ever taken a pilgrimage or a retreat? Tracy’s Balzer’s book, Thin Places,, has a chp on how the ancient Celtic Christians took pilgrimages. She joins Tom Wrightin encouraging us to reconsider the value of retreats and pilgrimages.
Have you experimented with pilgrimage? What value have you found in pilgrimages? What are your favorite places for pilgrimages or retreats?
Tracy enters this discussion by distinguishing tourism or vacations from pilgrimages. A difference, but not the only, is between asking “what did you do or what did you see?” or “what did your trip mean?”
Celtic Christians sometimes traveled without a distinct location or destiny in mind. They traveled to hear from God. And of course some fine Celtic prayers derived from such pilgrimages:
The compassing of God be on thee,
The compassing of the God of life.
The compassing of Christ be on thee,
The compassing of the Christ of love.
The compassing of Spirit be on thee,
The compassing of the Spirit of Grace.
The compassing of the Three be on thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee,
The compassing of the Three preserve thee.
She mentions Abraham and Moses and the desert fathers and mothers. Why did they do this? To accomplish the mission of God, for purification and discipline, and sometimes — like St Patrick — to evangelize.
One of my favorite ideas in this chp is that pilgrimage turns a “place into text.” For many Iona or Northumbria are places that have become texts. What about you? Any places that are now texts?