I had a spiritual direction appointment last week, and I was telling my Ignatian/Jesuit spiritual director about some of the amazing experiences I had during sabbatical, especially but not exclusively while I was travelling in Europe. He suggested this Ignatian meditation technique: savor the wonderful moments, moment by moment. Draw them out. Reexperience the spiritual wonder of them.
While doing that, I focused primarily on the part of the sabbatical that I called a retreat, but which the retreat directors called a pilgrimage. We were referred to as pilgrims, as the main site of our time together was at a famed pilgrimage site: Iona Abbey in Scotland.
As I continued to meditate, I realized that all–or most of my time–could have been considered a pilgrimage, as opposed to tourism or travel for the sake of travel. Pilgrims journey with spiritual companions to places frequented by other pilgrims, and there is an aspect of prayer and storytelling, rest and recreation to pilgrimages. While tourists are focused on flitting from beautiful experience to beautiful experience, pilgrims are more fixated on the spiritual experience of the time together with others on the same spiritual journey.
Are we tourists in our lives with God, or are we pilgrims? That’s what I’m thinking about.