A pilgrim journey brings into sharp relief much that we gloss over or take for granted, bringing to attention those things we truly value. Because of our decision to be on the move, we are somehow obliged to make choices about what is essential and what is peripheral. Life is a process of continual change and movement in which we look for patterns and significance. Beyond the whirling cycle of our days we find that there still remains a longing for that which is lasting and eternal.
On pilgrimage we have the opportunity to sift experience and to choose again those things we require for inner vitality and balance. But it may also become clear that we have to shed other things, which may once have helped us but which we now find burdensome and obstructive – be they tasks, habits, ideas, beliefs or even relationships.
However, we must proceed with caution, for taking and leaving cannot be made lightly. If we are to be prophetic to an insatiable world, which uses up and discards too quickly, our choices should reflect the generosity of God in the way we share, re-imagine and preserve all that is good.
Optional starter questions:
- As we cannot carry everything with us on this sacred journey, how do we choose what to keep and what to leave behind?
- What in our daily living provides inner vitality and balance?
- What am I noticing that may once have helped me but I now find burdensome and obstructive – be they tasks, habits, ideas, beliefs or relationships?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matt 11: 28
WEEK TWO: TAKING AND LEAVING
you call and we follow.
you call, and we leave behind
the nets of our past lives;
the things that bound and held us;
our old selves and our regrets.
For calling and disturbing,
for surprising and making new,
for moving us towards wholeness,
we thank you Lord.
‘Around a Thin Place’
Excess baggage is a symptom of something we are missing on the inside – a fear that we won’t be accepted for what we are, as if our selves are not enough. We bring too much of our past experience, the clutter of our emotions. These things get in the way and keep us from getting close to others. Then we are left with the task of having to find someone else to carry it, whether it is our luggage or our loneliness.
‘Travelers’ Tales: A Woman’s World’
Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now. “I’m afraid of committing myself,” she thought to herself. She wanted to follow all possible paths and so ended up following none. Even in that most important area of her life, love, she had failed to commit herself. After her first romantic disappointment, she had never again given herself entirely. She feared pain, loss, and separation. These things were inevitable on the path to love, and the only way of avoiding them was by deciding not to take that path at all. In order not to suffer, you had to renounce love. It was like putting out your own eyes so as not to see the bad things in life.
The industrialist was horrified to find the fisherman,
lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
“Why aren’t you out fishing?” said the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for one day.”
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with it?”
“Earn more money. Then you could have a
motor fixed to your boat and go into
deeper waters and catch more fish. That
would bring you money to buy nylon nets,
so more fish, more money. Soon you would
have enough to buy two boats… even a fleet
of boats. Then you could be rich like me.”
“What would I do then?”
“Then you could really enjoy life.”
“What do you think I am doing now?”
Anthony de Mello
‘The Song of the Bird’
God, our saviour and guide,
Who by your calling, summon us
to live as pilgrims for Christ.
Help us to travel light,
to trust your promises,
and to follow in the footsteps of the saints.
God, the source of our joy,
you gladden our hearts
as we journey towards the heavenly city.
Deepen within us the desire for your peace,
a longing to see your justice done;
that sharing a common purpose,
your people may prosper and come
to praise you with the songs of Zion.
‘The Pilgrims’ Manual’
Every effort has been made to trace copyright. However, we would be glad to hear from any holders of copyright not traced so that due acknowledgement can be made.
All images istock except where indicated.
Matt 11 – Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Disturber’ – Kate McIlhagga (in Around a Thin Place, eds Jane Bentley & Neil Paynter, Wild Goose Publications, 2011)
‘Excess baggage…’ – Mary Morris (in Travelers’ Tales: A Woman’s World ed Marybeth Bond, Travelers’ Tales Inc, 1995, used by permission.)
‘Choosing a path…’ – Paulo Coelho (Brida, HarperCollins Publishers, 2009, permission sought.)
‘The industrialist…’ – Anthony de Mello (The Song of the Bird, Image Books, 1984, permission sought.)
‘God, our saviour and guide’ – Christopher Irvine (The Pilgrims’ Manual, Wild Goose Publications, 2004)
SET OUT ON THE PILGRIMAGE
Welcome to the 2016 CTBI Lent course
The CTBI Lent Course 2016 represents a departure in style and format from that offered in previous years. Each week, we are invited to gather in groups for reflection and spiritual conversation around a series of themes drawn from the overarching title of Pilgrimage’. The idea is that we embark on a spiritual journey through Lent, both alone and in company, sharing with others our personal reflections, stories and insights.
The notion of ‘Pilgrimage’ is presented in the form of collections of sayings, images, wisdom and prayers from a variety of sources, which are gathered into a pack of seven conversation booklets suitable for personal and group use. Each member of a group will need their own copy of the pack, which will be used as a personal journal.
The Open Road
Where the invitation is to undertake a particular kind of journey, a sacred journey which involves both inner and outer dimensions. As we set out, what is our desire, or longing?
GO TO WEEK ONE
Taking and Leaving
Focus on choice. How do we choose what to keep, what we require for inner vitality and balance, and what to leave behind, things which may once have helped us but we now find burdensome and obstructive?
GO TO WEEK TWO
Where the invitation is to become more attentive to our surroundings Where are the signs of God’s presence around us? How do we stay open to new insights?
GO TO WEEK THREE
Alone and Together
Focuses on our relationships with others. In our search for ‘unity in diversity’, how do we learn from ‘the other’? What does it mean to be separate yet ‘one’?
GO TO WEEK FOUR
Living with Uncertainty
Where we think of times of alienation and separation that are common to us all. How do we live with unanswered questions? From where do we find hope?
GO TO WEEK FIVE
Where we are invited to contemplate the mystery of God at the heart of the Christian experience. Each step on the journey illuminates more questions, for example: what is the nature of suffering?
GO TO WEEK SIX
When we contemplate the significance of our pilgrim journey for the future. What people, networks, ideas, insights have we discovered that will continue to inspire us?
GO TO WEEK SEVEN
Whilst you may wish to print out the contents of these pages, we suggest you will find it more useful and less costly to purchase copies of the ‘Pilgrimage’ pack, which is recommended for conversation group settings and individual use.