One of our new spring books this year is A Purposeful Path: How Far Can You Go with $30, a Bus Ticket, and a Dream? It’s the story of Casey Beaumier’s “begging” pilgrimage during his early formation as a Jesuit. Most Jesuits are required to do a pilgrimage of this sort, during which they must rely on God’s provision as supplied through others’ generosity. The pilgrimages differ in length and destination, but the purpose for each is the same: learn faith as you trust God to provide for your basic needs, and learn humility by depending on other people.
Casey and his pilgrimage partner begin on the Appalachian Trail, where they encounter changing weather, a variety of hiking companions, mouse invasions during the night, and good conversations around campfires.
It seems to me that there’s a temptation along the pilgrim way to feel that the journey is meant to be lonesome and solitary. Isn’t a person supposed to figure out everything by him- or herself? Sometimes the journey can feel like this, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Mentoring can be quite important on the journey. It is a gift to be able to ponder the future while looking to the example of others who are well along the journey of life, those who inspire us by the way they live. It is good to listen to them and ask them questions about what they have seen and what they have learned. Pride makes a person feel that he should not seek advice or good counsel. On our journey along the Appalachian Trail, we depended on the insights of those who had gone before us. At that time on the trail, people left journals at the shelters, and hikers would spend time reflecting on their experiences at a particular shelter or part of the trail. For example, some people noted in the journal if and where they had spotted wildlife. (We wrote about our experience with the mice in that shelter’s journal!) I liked that the advice was there for the taking; I could choose to read it or not to read it.
- How can you relate to what Casey has learned here?
- Have you embarked on pilgrimage, and if so, when and where?
- What do you suppose a person learns while on a journey over which she has little control?