Being a pilgrim no longer means dour-faced men and women donning odd, steeple hats. There is untapped value in pilgrimage wherever you are in your quest to realize connection. I want to share with you a bold new experiment that invites you to become a modern-day Pilgrim wherever you are.

Pilgrimage: A sustained endeavor taken with the purpose to re-center and re-boot your life.

Hatching Experiments for Virtual Pilgrimage

Life has settled squarely in pilgrimage for me lately. I’m one of the two hatchers-of-plans for the newly formed Austin chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino a national non-profit. Also co-leading a soulful two-week walking and yoga pilgrimage happening July 3-16th on the Camino, and developing a new idea to create a international and stay at home experiment called Connected Pilgrim. Then there’s the ever-present novel (on the wacky and transformative power of pilgrimage) waiting in the wings which will get more attention after the full summer.

Immersed in the practicalities and magic of pilgrimage has been a blast. I’m walking more and worrying less. I’m contemplating whether I will be happy washing my hair with Dr. Bronner’s for almost a month and if shampoo is even on the pack list. How hard-core can I really be? I’ve been studying up on my Spanish, getting an international driver’s license, and volleying about big and beautiful questions in my head and heart.

The new idea/experiment Connected Pilgrim has me confronting the questions “What is Pilgrimage”, “Why Pilgrimage?” and “Who really cares?”. Our lives are so full already, why would anyone but me do this? 

Pilgrimage is a practical and spiritual experience. I’m not a religious person, though I study and honor many religions; for me, pilgrimage is about being real and connecting in lived space. It involves taking a pause on the journey of life that reboots and refreshes on many levels.

Pilgrimage – the physical and spiritual acts – bring challenge and peak experience. Peak experiences, as defined by Abraham Maslow are “moments of highest happiness and fulfillment”. Now, that’s what I’m talking about!

In pilgrimage, we are pushed to our limits, feeling alive and invigorated.

We make time to reflect on our place in the world, what matters to us, and what we might be holding on to that we should let go.

Our Resistance to Pilgrimage

When talking with people about the Camino pilgrimage this summer, many said some version of

“Wow! That sounds really amazing! I’d love to go but….”

The “buts” range from not being able to take vacation time, leave children, an ill family member, not enough cash, and the idea of walking 13 miles everyday sounds like torture. They are valid reasons. At the same time, these people long to step out of their day-to-day routine to experience something more, to feel free and expansive. They feel drained, going through the motions. They wonder if life is passing them by.

What do they think would happen on a pilgrimage? Why do I and so many others feel compelled to keep going back for more?

Spiritual tourism is on the rise in many countries.

More people walked the Camino de Santiago in the first three months of this year than ever before. We are on to something. What is it?

Join Me Here

In the next three posts we’ll take a quick glance at what the modern human, like you and me, might find in pilgrimage. This is not a stodgy historical recounting, but a down to earth look at why in the world someone might take this on.

Looking forward to hearing what your response is to the idea of pilgrimage. I know I’m not alone in feeling the need to re-boot. Maybe pilgrimage sounds too religious? There is no time for such a selfish activity?

How do you do re-boot?

Do you have a pilgrimage substitute? Please post in the comments section and let me know!

Because I really want to know!

If you’d like to learn more about Realizing Connection, Connected Pilgrim or just keep track of our motley crew of would-be adventurers, check it out here!

This is the 1st in a 4 part series asking “Why is pilgrimage relevant in the early 21st century?”

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