Pilgrimage involves doing something with whatever faith you have.
And faith, like muscle, likes being worked.
- Charles Foster (in The Sacred Journey)
Some define the spiritual discipline of pilgrimage very narrowly, a once in a lifetime journey to a particular place. Others define pilgrimage very broadly, the Christian life is a pilgrimage. My inner Anglican seeks a middle way. Including the whole life of a faithful Christian diminishes the particular act I mean by pilgrimage. I believe pilgrimage could include a variety of destinations, but a deliberate intention to move away from ordinary and toward something sacred.
Pilgrimage is decidedly different than a vacation. The primary difference is internal. Indeed, a group of people could have the same travel itinerary and it could be vacation for some and pilgrimage for others. Sarah and I had the opportunity to travel to Israel while we were in college. I believe it was pilgrimage for both of us, although it may have been more of a vacation for some that were in the same group.
We prepared, along with a larger group, with books that helped cultivate expectations for the places we would visit. While the sites we visited were familiar from scripture, our study added to the depth of the experience. Like many spiritual disciplines, pilgrimage may be amplified in a group experience.
Our Ascension youth have benefited from pilgrimage and are in the process of planning another this summer. Perhaps we can each learn from their planning and experience as we interact with them over coffee on Sundays!