May 5, 2013
Pilgrim or tourist?
Although our trip has been advertised for over 18 months as a “Pilgrimage to Corrymeela”, its leadership (Kathryn Anderson, Wilf Bean, and I) hadn’t given the idea of pilgrimage too much “official” thought until Nan, one of our participants, said at the orientation meeting that for her, the idea of pilgrimage was what first attracted her to the trip. She nudged the group to think about the idea of pilgrimage, and how we might explore the idea of pilgrimage as we prepared for our trip, and during our time together. In what ways might this short 8 day trip be a pilgrimage?
It was an animated and joyful group that gathered in person for the first time at 4 pm today. We had already participated in an introductory conference call in February, and 10 of us had met when we gathered in person for orientation and team building for a day in March at Tatamagouche Centre. Our 11th member, Kathi from Ontario, bravely joined us on Skype for part of that time. But today was the first time we were all together, in person. After sharing the stories of our busy lives and our travel, Wilf shared a reading on pilgrimage that invited us to think more deeply about our personal journeys.
The reading, from http://onpilgrimage.com/id2.html, says:
“Our working definition of pilgrimage is a transformative journey to a sacred centre. That’s what makes being a pilgrim different from being a tourist. For a tourist travel is an end in itself. For a pilgrim, travel is a means to an end. Pilgrims travel with a clear intention, to draw closer to God. They make their journey with a heightened expectation ... Our travel to historical and scenic sites is the outward part, our drawing closer to God is the inward part. ... And thus we expect to return transformed or changed or converted from the person we were when we began our journey. We will not return the same as we were when we left. ... Pilgrims ... will experience life differently upon returning.”
Today, these 11 pilgrims began their journey together – three arrived into Belfast from Canada today, two yesterday, two earlier in the week. Four arrived yesterday into Dublin, spent the day in Dublin, and traveled to Belfast today. Included in this group is the granddaughter of one of the participants who traveled with her grandmother, and is traveling around Ireland on her own this week and then they will meet up again when our trip is over. It’s a diverse group – many have never met before two months ago. But already we have discovered that we have common questions, and are eager to learn from our hosts, and from each other. And, it looks like we know how to tell our own stories, have fun together, and enjoy each others' company.
Below is the group as we gathered at Robinson’s for dinner tonight ... from left, Frank Sommerville, Anne Sommerville, Wilf Bean, Kathryn Anderson, Kailey (Betty’s granddaughter), Betty Curry, Kathi Phillips, Margaret Greene, Trish Betts, Nan Corrigan, and Bruce Corrigan. Tomorrow – Corrymeela!!