In the Western calendar today marks the feast of Richard the Pilgrim. Born somewhere in the last quarter of the seventh century, he is said to have renounced his claim the the throne of Wessex in favor of a pilgrim life. He died on that journey. Lots of miracles have been claimed on his behalf since then.
Wikipedia warns us to not mix him up with that other Richard the Pilgrim, a French jongleur, who was witness to the siege of Antioch in 1097 and wrote an epic poem about it. It’s not clear to me, but I suspect he doesn’t get a day in the calendar of saints.
I have mixed feelings about the image of the pilgrim. The part I object to is the spiritual dualism it implies and sometimes is explicit, where this mucky world is to be endured, but our true home is out there, over there, in some sweet by and bye. And us, you and I, well, we’re just passing through.
On the other hand, there is a real truth. We own nothing, all that we are is borrowed from the stuff of the world, and at some point it will be reclaimed by the world. And so, in that sense, we are just passing through.
And there is some wonderful good news in getting that.
If we get that passing through, our hearts open, and we walk the world with eyes that shine, stars, holding the mountains as a staff, our coat the roiling clouds in the sky…
There is a pilgrim journey.
Discovering it all.
Holding it with passion.
And when the time comes.
Letting it go.
The pilgrim staff handed on…