Lenten Reflection One, An Invitation
Our Lenten Journey begins, using the Reflection Guide that coincides with pastor Holbrook’s preaching.
Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage
By Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Whether you’re reading this in a sea of tumult, roiling political waters, fierce climate changes affecting lands by fire and water – or during a pandemic – your life has likely been disrupted from whatever “normal” may have meant.
It’s time to reset our souls. Can we learn to step away from the anxieties and crippling fatigue that seem to imprison us, and step forward in a journey to replenish our inner lives? That’s the promise of a life of pilgrimage. Through courageous relinquishment, we can discover the ways of walking and being in the world that will strengthen our outward journey, walking into a promised future.
Those forces which have worn us down are formidable. Political toxins have invaded with ferocity the spaces where we think and live. Public life has been poisoned, almost mortally, by political schisms and elections. Pervasive fears seem overpowering. Inner anxieties have cascaded into the public sphere, fracturing many of our hopes for work toward the common good.
Further, criminal police brutality instigated a massive movement of racial reckoning in the nation’s life. America’s original sin of racism and white supremacy was revealed, once again, as a moral
corruption chiseled into our corporate soul.
So of course we’re exhausted emotionally, politically, and spiritually. Our inner resources seem sucked dry at a time when we are called on to have even greater strength for the work ahead. We thirst, panting for living springs. We hunger, longing for the bread of life.
Whether for an hour, a week, a few minutes, or the duration of reading a book, it’s time for us to take a step back from the frantic and frenetic tumult that has swept over our society, and re-center our souls.
Already, we have experienced some hints of what this offers. Time for long-postponed walks on new trails, overdue connections via Zoom with treasured friends, dinners lengthened with leisure
rather than punctuated by another urgent appointment. Perhaps we’ve rediscovered some of these deeper longings which now require space for exploration.
Re-centering our souls helps us know how to step forward, not in reaction or fear, but with intentional, courageous purpose, on a pilgrimage.
If this resonates with you, let me invite you on a journey of renewal. Decide to embark on a pilgrimage. This may include a physical journey to a holy place. Or it may be an interior journey, in a quiet, solitary space. But your life will move, with holy purpose.
Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage is not a book about pilgrimages, per se, although that is included. Rather, it’s an invitation to begin the journey of renewal. My hope is that you will be challenged to work with the text and travel down its roads, trusting that you will discover a wellspring nurturing your life forward.
Casting off into a pilgrimage, whether real or virtual, beckons us to leave things behind. The book outlines ten such movements helping us discern what is essential to keep, and what baggage hinders us from moving forward. This reflection guides works with each movement, offering simple suggestions to prompt and probe your journey.
I invite you to walk together with me, with holy purpose, toward a holy and renewing place.
Suggestions for the use of this Reflection Guide:
Brief reflections, quotes, a question and an exercise are included for ten days, based on each chapter. You may choose to do this once a week, for ten weeks, or fit them into a season like Advent or Lent. You might go on a ten-day retreat. Better yet, I’d encourage you to embark on a ten-day pilgrimage. You could choose a destination that may hold sacred significance. Or you could decide to walk ten to fifteen miles a day, in various directions, planned or discovered, returning to a home base each time. Whatever you do, include
some walking each day, because pilgrimage is an embodied practice.
The guide can be used in a solitary way, in dialogue with yourself, and hopefully God, assisted by your words in a journal. But you could also embark on this pilgrimage with a group. Perhaps you might meet once a week or once a month, working through the questions and exercises together. Or, to build community that would likely last a lifetime, you might choose to go on a ten-day pilgrimage together, using the book and this Reflection Guide to shape your time.
I’d welcome hearing your feedback. You can be in touch through my website: www.wesgm.com. You’ll also find some other related resources there.
Buen Camino! Wes Granberg-Michaelson