I’ve been thinking about pilgrimage.

St. John the Divine in 2006

Orchard House

I’ve gone on pilgrimage without really using that term. I’ve mentioned my East Coast trip with my mom. That was an author pilgrimage for me. How many people really have the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as their number one New York City destination? Two of my favorite Madeleine L’Engle books, A Severed Wasp and The Young Unicorns, have the cathedral as a backdrop so that’s what I wanted to see. (I dragged Computerguy and Harvard Divinity Student (who was then Teach for America Teacher and has now graduated and thus needs a new moniker) back nearly a decade later for an actual service.) We also visited Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, in Concord, Massachusetts and Prince Edward Island for all things Anne of Green Gables.

Anne Shirley Greeting Visitors

So that was my Young Woman’s Literary Pilgrimage, and it was pretty great. There was something especially awe inspiring for me about the Cathedral and the V&T, a restaurant patronized by characters in A Severed Wasp. These were real places Madeleine had been. They weren’t tourist-ized versions of things–they were the real deal. I got to see a glimpse of Madeleine’s New York. But Orchard House and PEI were lovely in their own ways (and my mom especially liked Orchard House).

The "Music Man Footbridge" in my dad's home town

Last year, when we went back to Iowa for my grandparents’ memorial service, that was a pilgrimage of sorts, too, I suppose. I really wanted Computerguy to see the one place that had been consistent for me. No matter where we lived, we always went back to this small city in Iowa; my grandparents always lived in the same house (in my memory); it was always there. So I wanted to see it all again and I wanted CG to know it, too.

My brother got to go back to Taiwan–where we spent three years of our childhood–a couple years ago for his job. I wonder if he thought about that as a pilgrimage? I don’t know if I would even want to do that. I suppose I would jump on the chance if it were serendipitously given me as it was him, but I don’t think I will be trying to make it happen.

Reunion--Sequoias 2010

So those were important trips, but I didn’t really think of them as pilgrimages, at least not as they were happening. Now I’m trying to be conscious about it (and it was a post by A Musing Amma that started me thinking this way, gave me a way in to the coming journey, and she has good suggestions listed at her site). Our annual family reunion for my Mom’s family is next week. We will go back to the Sequoias and some of us will be hiking a mountain that bears our family name and scattering ashes. I don’t know how I feel about this, so I am trying to think of it as a pilgrimage. I want to be intentional and reflective and seek the Holy in this journey.

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2 Responses to pilgrimage

  1. Terri says:

    Pilgrimages take many forms…these of yours sound all wonderful!

  2. Leslie says:

    That’s a really game-changing way to think about our journeys. Now when I go to Ohio and Pennsylvania this fall on research trips for my genealogy project, I think I’ll try to conceptualize them as pilgrimages.

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