Have you ever considered going home as a pilgrimage? Maybe you’re going back to the hometown of your childhood, or maybe you’re going to the town in which you attended college or got married or began your career. If the location has a lot of meaning for you, why not be intentional about your visit?
- Make it a journey of gratitude. As you wander that location, make a list of all the gifts that place gave you. At key places, offer a prayer of thanks.
- Make it a journey of healing. Rather than tallying up gifts, identify the aspects of that place that harmed you—the site where your house burned down, or the workplace that was toxic, or the home in which you endured an abusive relationship. Take to those places clear statements of what they did to you. Offer those memories and locations to God and ask for continued healing.
- Make it a journey of renewed relationship. Reconnect with people who were key influences on you: the teacher who encouraged or inspired you, the best friend from fifth grade, the priest who helped you find direction as a teenager or young parent.
I can remember traveling with a few relatives out to the “old farm,” where my great-aunt and her husband had lived and farmed for years. Throughout my childhood, that was a special family gathering spot, and it held many memories. We got permission to walk through the pasture and down to the creek—how many times had we done that, how many walks had we taken down to the timber to pick pecans or blackberries? Family no longer lived there, and we all sensed it would be the last time we’d see the place. It was a way of saying good-bye, and I’m so glad we did it.
Do you have any stories of pilgrimage to your past? What wisdom do you have?