Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pilgrims!

Pilgrim: def. A person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.

A few years back I spent a month walking El Camino de Santiago (aka: The Way of St. James) with a dear friend. For those unfamiliar with this 500 km trek, let me explain.

El Camino de Santiago is one of the last remaining holy pilgrimages dating back to the middle ages. There were originally four holy pilgrimages. And if a devout Catholic wanted to absolve certain sins he or she could journey to either Jerusalem, Rome, Istanbul, or Santiago de Compostela.

Almost everyone is familiar with the first three sites. But where in the world is Santiago?

Santiago de Compostela is in the North Western part of Spain in the region of Galicia. It is said to be the burial site of the Apostle James who, according to church tradition, brought the gospel to Spain.

Today a stately cathedral marks the field where he is said to lay and thousands journey there every year by foot or bike.

There are at least a half a dozen different routes to get there though. My friend and I took the most common one --the Camino Frances which starts in the French Pyrenees.

During our journey I was amazed at how several Biblical truths took on new meaning for me. It taught me to take life a lot slower, to look at the fields, and to contemplate the flowers. It taught me what it means to be a pilgrim.

In 1 Peter 2:11 we are reminded that we are not of this world. As foreigners, pilgrims and sojourners, we are to set our sights on heaven and journey on. That requires good shoes, light bags, and a heart set on pilgrimage.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.”
            --Ps 84:5

Are there any out there feeling a bit out of place?
                     --Take comfort stranger and keep traveling!

Are there any who feel like the journey is too long?
                    --Look to Jesus and let Him be your strength!

And remember, set your heart on pilgrimage.
                                                 ... for this is not our home!