Pilgrimpace's Blog

Pilgrimage is a circular route
March 27, 2011, 9:04 pm
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This meditation by Kate McIllhagga of the Iona Community speaks to me a great deal about the connections between pilgrimage, dark times and hope.  It is from the book Dandelions and Thistles, edited by Jan Sutch Pickard. and is based on Hebrews 11: 8-10.


Rome to Canterbury

Derry to Iona

Iona to Bamburgh

Bamburgh to Bradwell

Whitby to Whithorn –

pilgrimage is a circular route

following the scuffmarks of history.


Beware the onslaught of nostalgia,

look out for sickly sentimentality:

the saintly monk who never broke a fingernail

or into sweat.


Remember, rather, and walk

in the footsteps of countless refugees,

tramping the forests of fear,

camping out in the fields of hopelessness;

the scent, not of crushed myrtle but panic,

the sound, not of the lark, but the sniper’s bullet,

soaring, seeking warm flesh.


Seek then to remember

the brave steps of Mandela,

the unfinished work of Luther King,

the courage and compassion of Romero.

Carry with you also Herstory:

Margaret of Scotland and Hilda of Whitby;

Clothilde and Bertha, persuasive princesses;

Elizabeth Fry and Emily Pankhurst,

who broke open prisons and set free prisoners.


Remember all the invisible ones,

walk in the footmarks of the forgotten ones.


And when your place of departure

becomes also your place of arrival

and you ‘know the place for the first time’:

What has changed?  What have you indulged?

In seeking what have you found?

In penance have you travelled

the long hard road to restitution?

As you step off and out of the procession,

what of you will those who continue

carry until you meet again?

What of them do you bring to us?


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