I'm behind in the reading we were asked to do to prepare for this pilgrimage - but am using this rainy morning to catch up. One of the "learning modules" is on this theme of pilgrimage - something I've thought about before. I especially appreciated this short blog post on the Four Principles of Pilgrims gleaned from the writings of Ignatius Loyola. In particular I appreciate the fourth principle - and these words:
We learn God’s will by moving toward something—whatever seems right to us. In the way that you cannot steer a parked car, God cannot direct us while we are sitting rigidly in our fear and over-caution and our need to know every detail before acting.On a personal level, I tend to find these words both right and challenging. I am not normally a fearful person, and I don't think of myself as someone who often gets stuck. But I can be paralyzed by over-caution, or over-thinking things. I do like to know where I'm going and I do like to see down the road (further than one can sometimes see) and I do like to "think things through" before I set out on a journey. Very often this serves me well, as a strength; except when it doesn't. I'd rather learn, and then walk; yet sometimes the "shadow" of this gift is that it keeps me from learning by walking.
So these words convey wisdom to my soul and in a sense they summarize something deep in my soul that has been unfolding for a while now - probably since I said yes to becoming Canon to the Ordinary a couple of years ago without really knowing for sure what it was I was saying yes to!
But I think these words are bigger than my own personal journey, as pilgrimage always is. I am not walking alone in Alabama - and more importantly I'm not setting out to these places as an explorer - but as a pilgrim. We will walk together, on holy ground - ground made holy by the blood of martyrs.
We walk at a time and place when it's hard to know how far we have really come in fifty years. As recently as a few years ago people like me (white, male, educated) could be tempted to believe that as we watched an African American take the oath of office that we'd come a long ways in the journey toward racial justice as a nation. I sometimes wonder these days, however, if that moment in our history - the election of President Obama - didn't tap into some deep primordial racist fear that has set us back; or maybe just opened our eyes to the fact that the journey has only begun. Clearly anyone paying any attention at all has to wonder how we take the next steps.
I am the kind of person who could sit and think about that for a very long time. And maybe I'd come to some new insight. But this week, I'm going to walk the pilgrim way with others. I ask for your prayers as the journey unfolds.
I trust that we will indeed learn by walking.