All ten of us met on the train platform in Alnmouth, England, an out of the way train stop in northeastern England, otherwise known as Northumbria. We were then herded into waiting automobiles to begin our pilgrimage across eastern Great Britain. During the next seven days we were to be captured by four historical streams of church history.
Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual discipline. As with all spiritual disciplines, it is an ordinary activity that is set aside for an extra ordinary purpose. We could have gone as tourist or vacationers, but instead we intentionally were desiring to observe something different.
Beyond the historical sites and beauty of these ancient places we were also looking to observe what God may want to expose us to regarding our own soul's condition. Traveling with nine others in a foreign land might show some realities that are often covered over by the ego's ability to project a different and more pleasurable persona.
This discipline of Pilgrimage also exposed us to four streams of church history. Historical people in real places during specific times of historical settings can inflame the imagination to wonder about a life that could be my very own, given a different circumstance. The imagination compiles questions like would I respond as they responded? Do I have the faith they had? Do I have the deep seated conviction that would allow me to endure the hardships they endured? In what ways are similar circumstances being played out in my culture and in my day?
In our pilgrimage Curt, Marcus, Sue, Nick, Sharon, Tara, Sheri, Ann, Cathy and myself wandered with intention to learn. In every stop I was trying to remind them and myself that we were learning to listen to God's voice in our daily times in the Scripture, through the interactions between us, from the sites our eyes beheld, and from the deep places within us that the Spirit was bringing to the surface. Learning to listen; it's hard work. Through all these means the question, "who is it that you seek?" was our prayer.
Two other prayers were taught to us; "how then shall we live" and "how do we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?" I've translated these ancient prayers into two other aspirations of my heart; "how do I learn to love?" and "how do I learn to live?" These three prayers; learning to listen, to love, to live marked our steps along our pilgrimage.
In the next few posts I'll let you hear some of how God answered those prayers. I'll also let you in on how the participants heard from the Lord through the discipline of pilgrimage and how the various streams of church history have shaped our lives today.
I pray this will be a blessing to you.
Sincerely in Christ,