This year our Pilgrimage in Place is a ten-week journey loosely structured around the writings and spiritual practice of theologian Howard Thurman.
The ten weeks include one week of preparation, seven weeks of pilgrimage, and
two weeks for the return journey. Except for the week of preparation, each
week will include four practices:
We will be learning from Thurman through his writings and recordings of his sermons and interviews. Links will be provided for all audio, video, and text selections. Spend as much time as you like with Thurman's words, resisting any urge to read quickly.
Thurman wrote in an era when masculine language was considered neutral, applicable when describing humans in general. The quotes we will use from his writing will maintain his original wording, even when we would phrase it differently today.
Map out a one-mile (or longer, or shorter) route in your neighborhood to walk each time you walk. Spend 15 to 20 minutes walking in your yard or inside your home. Plan a route in your neighborhood, then travel this route mentally/imaginatively. Follow a labyrinth with your finger, either online or on paper. Find downloadable and printable labyrinths here.
Plan to spend at least ten minutes each day in prayer or meditation. This can take a variety of forms:
Thurman described prayer as "the movement of the heart of a man toward God; a movement that in a sense is within God—God in the heart sharing its life with God the Creator of all Life. The hunger itself is God, calling to God" (from Disciplines of the Spirit).
As a way to cultivate connection with the hunger of the heart, Thurman recommended practicing silence, both physical and mental.
If you are new to contemplative prayer, find a quiet place to be in silence. Focus your attention on the rise and fall of your breath. If you need more of an anchor for your attention, link each breath to a favorite passage from scripture, a hymn, or a word that represents the divine. You may choose to do the same prayer practice each day during the pilgrimage or vary it based on the hunger of your heart that day. Try beginning each session by inviting the Holy One to be with you.
Throughout your pilgrimage, keep a journal each day and record your thoughts, reflections, and questions that come to mind. Try to write without self-judgment and without self-censorship. Do not read over your writing until the end of the pilgrimage. If that is challenging for you, consider sealing each day's journaling in an envelope to open at the end of the journey.
During your writing sessions, you may find yourself planning things you want to do differently in your life or actions you want to take. Write these down! However, the action itself can wait until next week. This week is for rest and renewal. The various readings and audio/video clips are suggestions, not requirements. Write about whatever calls to you.