Monastic Strategies: Our Pilgrimage Begins With Staying Home

Monastic Strategies: Our Pilgrimage Begins With Staying Home March 19, 2020

Our Pilgrimage Begins With Staying Home

Almost all of us have begun a pilgrimage recently.

Some of us are experienced pilgrims. We prepare for a pilgrimage by deciding on our itinerary and choosing what to pack. It is important to have the proper equipment, like strong walking shoes.

Many of us like to plan as completely as we can. We want to know what we are going to experience before we experience it. Some of us carry a detailed guide book to ensure we are as comfortable and as safe as possible.

The pilgrimage we have joined together is a little unusual for us. We probably feel like we did not have enough time to get ready. Most of us have little idea where we are going and how we will get there. There is no dependable guide book full of details about this journey.

This pilgrimage begins with staying home.

We are all accompanying each other on a journey none of us has taken before. Many of us feel like we have been forced into taking this trip. Most of us have some concerns and questions about each other.

It may feel like we are leaving behind things on which we depend. Some of us are giving up our jobs and our dreams for the future. We may be concerned we do not have the equipment we will need, or the food and water.

No matter how we feel about this particular journey or how prepared we are, our pilgrimage has begun. Like any pilgrimage, we are learning to trust and depend on each other.

Our pilgrimage begins and will change us in unforeseen ways. We will each learn lessons from this journey, and we will learn them together.

Our Pilgrimage Begins Again Each Day

Each morning our pilgrimage begins again. We face each day with its challenges and opportunities. Some of us are learning how to work from home. We may be caring for our children and trying not to share our concerns with them.

Our connections to our wider family and friends are electronic ones. Some of us are experiencing new challenging, like live streaming or meeting on Zoom.

We miss familiar people we saw regularly before our journey began. It is a challenge to realize all the ways our everyday lives will be different from now on.

Like Chaucer’s pilgrims on the road to Canterbury, each of us has our own tale.

Other concerns and decisions seem to fade into the background. Questions which monopolized our time and attention before no longer seem so significant. We may learn what we thought motivated us are not the lessons we most need to learn.

A pilgrimage is a journey, not a destination. Our pilgrimage begins and each step is sacred space. We learn its lessons along the way, overcoming obstacles and dealing with challenges.

It may be dramatic when we arrive at a great cathedral or important shrine. Our pilgrimage begins with our first step.

Each day we embark in new ways on our pilgrimage together. There may be wisdom we have struggled to gain which will elude us until we stay at home. Some things require us to grow into them.

Today may be the day we take the step which will reveal a truth to us. It may be tomorrow or the next day.

Our pilgrimage is a series of steps which fit together. There are no shortcuts. We need to take each day’s steps in order to gain ground.

Staying at home is the step we need to take today.

Our Pilgrimage Begins Within Us

When we stay home we find ourselves surrounded by the familiar. Most of us have fewer distractions.

Now we share a pilgrimage in which we stay home. We are not traveling to a distant country or visiting foreign places. Each day brings us to a new part of our journey and we see it in new ways.

The challenge for us is not about keeping up with a parade of new people and places.

Our pilgrimage begins as we take time to pay attention to the stories within us.

We sit in a familiar place with people we know and close our eyes, listening. The stories, and the sacred stillness, within us take us on a journey.

As we explore within ourselves we discover deep truths we had forgotten. Our pilgrimage begins to reveal what we have to offer as well as what we need. We find strengths within ourselves we may not have recognized before.

This voyage of discovery, our pilgrimage of staying home, will introduce us to who we can become.

We did not choose to take this trip and we did not have time to plan or prepare for it.

Our Pilgrimage Begins to Reveal Us

When our pilgrimage begins we hope we have everything we will need to complete it. We put our trust in what we already have.

As our pilgrimage unfolds each day, our steps show us we must trust in more than what we have. On the way we exchange what we have brought along for what we need.

Our pilgrimage begins to show us it is about more than our planning or preparation. We are more than the equipment or experience we have acquired.

Most of us had little or no opportunity to get ready for this pilgrimage. It feels like this journey was at our door before we knew it. We started this pilgrimage with what we already had.

Each step of our pilgrimage begins to reveal who we are. Every one of us faces fears and concerns in our own ways.

We begin again each day. Our pilgrimage together reveals the truth of who we are.

As we travel our pilgrimage begins in the truths within us we share on our journey together.

How will we respond when our pilgrimage begins again today?

Where are we going as our pilgrimage begins again and again this week?

[Image by Wolfgang Lonien]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is and his email address is


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