Pilgrimage and Me
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
My motivation to make a pilgrimage is perhaps as multi-layered as anyone else’s.
Growing up in a central Anglican tradition with a father who was a Methodist at heart, pilgrimage was not part of my upbringing. As a child, I visited many holy places with parents, but did so as a reluctant tourist, and sightseer, rather than through any religious devotional reason. My first (and so far) only trip to the Holy Land was described as a Study Tour.
As the Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin reminds us, there was a “strong critique of pilgrimage mounted by the 16th century Reformers…”
Even at the very origins of Christian pilgrimage, Gregory of Nyssa voiced loudly his doubts on the whole exercise. Those voices became even louder during the period of the Reformation when it was considered unnecessary to make a distant pilgrimage or to seek holy places. I am, in part, an inheritor of such views. I find myself unwilling to pilgrimage to contemporary centres of ‘revival’, because of an inbuilt suspicion (or theology) that affirms that God can be found and experienced everywhere. Therefore, there are no places where God will be experienced more than any others, nor mediated through a person or place more powerfully than any other. And yet, we are beings who inhabit time and space. Spaces, sacred spaces are important to us. So, I journey hopefully that I will encounter God both upon the road and at the destination.