From July 29 through August 9, I joined a group of 23 people for a 12 day pilgrimage across the United States of America. We packed ourselves into two 15 passenger vans and filled our hearts with imagination and expectancy. Over 4000 miles of driving, 60 hours in the vans, seven days of camping, four days of hiking, and two national parks.
Pilgrimage Tour 2015.
Though it was a trip with a church, it was unlike any church trip I’ve been on. Usually, it’s the youth camps, or the winter retreats, or the mission trips. But, those trips all have one thing in common: a destination. We may go to a campground to spend a week there, or a city to spend a weekend there, or a foreign country to spend a month there.
But, this trip was different.
Even though we had stops along the way, this trip wasn’t about a destination. It was about the journey.
The Pilgrimage Tour was about teaching us to be pilgrims in this life, always traveling toward God, but never quite fully arriving—at least on this side of the eschaton. It was about God forming us into the type of people who disciplined themselves as we make our way on this journey home.
And discipline ourselves we did.
Each day, we lived into a different spiritual discipline, focusing on how our current state of being rubs up against the way that we were meant to be. Every discipline that we practiced gave us a fresh lens through which to view that day. Not that God wouldn’t have done great things had we not practiced these discipline—yet, practicing those disciplines allowed us to see that day in ways that we might not have seen them had we not practiced them at all.
Not only did we live into a different discipline each day, but we were challenged to ask the question: how is God speaking to us through the geography? Through the valley? Through the meadows? Through the plains? I always thought it fascinating that Native Americans formed their spirituality around the land that surrounded them. It’s something that I think Christians often miss. I’m also jealous of my Mormon brothers and sisters who can go to a place in the U.S. and say, “This is a holy place for us… right here in our home land.” Yet, the whole world is full of the glory of God, including our own land. So, each day, we lived into that as well.
Every night, we were able to unpack the ways that God spoke to us that day, through those disciplines, through the nature and geography, and through one another. And that’s what I want to do here.
God spoke to me so much through this trip, so I wanted to process all of that through my writing and share it with anyone who wants to journey along with me. Thus, the Pilgrimage Tour blog series. Will you join me?
“Brothers, sisters, join this song; as we journey home.”
—Pilgrim Days, Will Reagan