On Monday, I mentioned summer pilgrimage that took you back to a hometown or to significant locations in your personal history. Let’s explore three other pilgrimage ideas.
Visit local and nearby religious shrines.
You may live relatively close to several shrines you’ve never even heard of. When I typed “Catholic shrines of Oklahoma” into a search engine, I found the page http://catholicplaces.org/shrineOK.htm, which offered descriptions and addresses of three sites in the state. After traveling the same route between Chicago and Kansas for years, I finally took the exit to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. CatholicShrines.net will take you to a national U.S.A. site, and you can simply click on the state and find the shrines located in it.
Journey to your roots.
I recently made my first trip to the English countryside because most of my roots are English. Although I didn’t do hard research to find the exact location of ancestors, it was uplifting enough simply to walk paths through the country and towns and breathe in the atmosphere that had helped create my life, long ago. Granted, this was a major trip and not the sort of journey I could take just any time—it required planning and saving. But I did consider it a pilgrimage and came home enriched. I could just as easily have followed parts of the Cherokee Trail of Tears because there’s plenty of Cherokee blood in the family line. Members of my extended family used to make the short journey to an area of Missouri where my grandma and her siblings grew up. We would pack a picnic, visit what graves could still be found, and spend the day, our older family members telling stories about great-grandparents and distant relatives.
Follow the steps of a historical figure who inspires you.
This person could be a saint, a social or political figure, a writer—anyone whose life moves you to be the best version of yourself. I know several people who have journeyed to Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton spent so much of his life. People travel to places that bring them closer to a favorite musician or novelist or spiritual teacher.
There are so many possibilities for pilgrimage—it really depends on what your soul needs and what opportunities present themselves.
- Make a list of the journeys you would like to make, and why they are important to you.
- Choose one journey that is possible, even if all you can do right now is begin to plan and save for it.
- Tell us about a pilgrimage you have made.