I cannot say I’ve ever really gone on a serious pilgrimage. A tourist goes to see and collect while the pilgrim goes to encounter and be changed. I can’t say I’ve ever gone to some place in the spirit of a pilgrim though I’ve had pilgrim-like encounters. I’ve done lots of tourism and found myself a pilgrim all at once, as when Kris and I scaled Skellig Michael (to the left) this summer off the west coast of Ireland.
Recently I began reading Daniel Taylor’s exquisitely written book, In Search of Sacred Places: Looking for Wisdom on Celtic Holy Islands
, and I’m finding so much that makes sense to me. Here one will not find one of those “go here and you will become transformed” or “go there and God will meet you,” but a gnarly realistic encounter with sacred places where he finds common experiences but overall experiencing a freshness to life.
As I read this book I will occasionally drop observations in a post.
But who has something to tell us about pilgrimages? Have you done one? What did you learn? Do you recommend them?
His first chp is about Iona, the historic isle off of Scotland’s west coast where Columba built a place and then many years later George MacLeod restored it.
At Iona one encounters the stories of Columba and the saints. Taylor: “The hope provided by the lives of saints comes not because they are unfallen but because being fallen dos not prevent them from living faithful and powerful lives” (27). But…
“The truth is, I find the level of devotion of these saints unsettling…. They go too far, they aren’t normal, they lack a sense of proportion…. Saints are spiritual terrorists, trying to blow us up with their messages from God” (31-32).