One of the best parts of pilgrimage is the feeling of hope, connection and common purpose within a tight knit community. Community can be a source of great joy and solace when you are facing challenges in life and on pilgrimage, and the unlikely and spontaneous clan that gathers on an adventure is sure to deliver a lot of great life lessons. Isolation is possible on pilgrimage, but only if you work at it.
When you take up a path to re-boot, to be inspired, to challenge yourself, you are a magnet for community.
I’ve met some unusual people on pilgrimage like the Australian man who decried the idea romantic love and shared that opinion with most everyone he met. Our conversations cajoled me out of complacency, distracted me from my painful blisters and made me laugh harder than most anyone I met on that adventure. Ours was a contentious but warm relationship. We pushed each other and it was fun to be with him… in small doses.
There have been delightful and unexpected friendships too, like the Italian man who spoke only his native tongue, but was happy to walk silently with new friends from all over the world. His smile ignited joy. You know those people who make you feel better, just being near them? He was one of those kinds of friends to me and many others. Though we rarely spoke, when he got home he kept in touch by having his grandson translate letters into English which he sent to us via email. We responded in English and his grandson read the letters to him. Unexpected and delightful!
Then there was the fellow who dragged his metal poles along the asphalt with a high-pitched screech then click, for miles and miles. He was ahead of me so I thought if we slowed down he would move on ahead. Unfortunately, every time we slowed, he did too. That was a long morning. Screech, click, Screech, click, Screech, click. But, once I stopped focusing on the screeching and the clicking, the sound moved into the background and I had a lovely afternoon strolling and chatting with new friends and family.
In life we inevitably connect with people who help us transcend obstacles of our own making. Sometimes these folks take the form of a life-long friend and/or temporary nemesis. Both serve a similar purpose of providing beauty in the discomfort, clarity from confusion, reverence from irreverence.
We stretch ourselves in these communities, we are generous, real.
We share a common goal.
Our belief in each other and the quest magnify our intentions, bring healing and clarity in more profound ways than we would find on our own.
That’s the power of community.
The time in immersive experiences like pilgrimage is precious and empowering. It helps you understand who you really are, outside of the roles, labels, and responsibilities you have in day-to-day life.
Outside the familiar, you can see with fresh eyes and possibilities can float into view that were obscured before.
Our connection to the deeper and liberating truths of life can lie along the path of pilgrimage.
That’s where the exciting experiment to build a virtual pilgrimage comes in.
I’ve spoken with many of you that long for some way to create expansiveness and possibility in your lives without having to spend loads of money or leave family/job to make it happen. I have an idea I think we should try.
We will have fun creating community together, wherever we are. I’ll be on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain this July leading a group and meeting lots of fun and interesting people, and now you can join us!
The cool thing about the 21st century is that this adventure can happen in our homes, neighborhoods, on the Camino (sometimes live streaming) and online. We can create our own community, experience wonder and adventure, do it exponentially, and in a way that works for us right now.
Sure, travel is great, and when you can swing it, get out there and do it!
Right now, let’s see what we can make happen if some of us are in Spain, and some of us are not.
Let’s make an international/stay at home version of a mighty band of pilgrims and see what happens next!
If you’d like to learn more about this #ConnectPilgrim version of pilgrimage, or just keep track of our motley crew of would-be adventurers, check it out and join us here!
I’d love to hear what community in immersive experience has meant to you? The people you met. What you learned? How was it once the intense experience had passed? Comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!
This is the 4th in a 4 part series asking and answering “Why is pilgrimage relevant in the early 21st century?