“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” — T.S. Eliot
Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City in the 1930s wrote a weekly column in the movement’s newspaper which was titled “On Pilgrimage”.
Week by week she wrote her words, recounted her story and encouraged others to accompany her on her journey.
For a pilgrimage is essentially a journey, it has a starting point, it has substance on the way, and it concludes with the arrival at its destination. It can be taken alone or in the company of others. It is a broad, fruitful experience, often not easy, tiring and demanding.
Recently I came across a fascinating book called Pilgrim Spirituality: Defining Pilgrimage Again for the First Time.
Written by Methodist Minister Ronald Aist, it has proved to be a veritable treasure chest of thoughts, ideas and reflections relating to the theme of pilgrimage.
It has been a delight to read. I would like to share some of that delight with you this week.
A number of years ago, I first started writing a weekly column for the British paper The Catholic Times called “Journey in faith”.
I did not know then the nature of the journey or how, week-by-week, I would share with my readers my own experiences of that often-difficult path of pilgrimage.
The very word “pilgrimage” suggests that for the one “making the pilgrimage” that there is a degree of discomfort in the day-by-day journey. You have only to read Gerard Hughes’ account of his journey on foot from Scotland to Jerusalem to understand that comment.
Recently another pilgrim reached the end of his journey, the British peace activist Bruce Kent. Over many years his voice in the Pax Christi movement and in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was loud and strong.
A pilgrim might be one who, on finding something, is anxious to share with others their discovery; a pilgrim can indeed be a lone voice in the wilderness.
We owe much to the significant stand taken by Bruce Kent, whether he was marching with CND or addressing large crowds in Trafalgar Square or Hyde Park. His call for peace among nations is still indeed the voice of the pilgrim.
Rodney Aist offers so much in Pilgrim Spirituality that will make it worth returning to his book time and again.
He works through the detail of the spiritual basis of pilgrimage in a clear and substantive way, offering his readers a guide to their own pilgrimage journey, wherever it might take them.
It is a book that I will value as I continue my own journey in faith.
Pilgrim Spirituality: Defining Pilgrimage Again for the First Time by Rodney Aist, Cascade Books (Eugene, Oregon), 2022.
Chris McDonnell is a retired headteacher from England and a regular contributor to La Croix International.
Reproduced with permission from La Croix International.