I decided to embark upon a 5 week spiritual pilgrimage. Well, I actually think God had a gracious hand in orchestrating the adventure, I simply said yes to the invitation. Once and a while a girl just has to get away. Seek out those places where she feels free. And I feel most free when I’m out, on adventure. Hiking. Running. Exploring. Driving. But this is much more than an adventure. This is, quite truly, a pilgrimage.
Going on pilgrimage has a long and admirable history. It is not simply a vacation from the everyday burdens of life. You don’t go on a pilgrimage to free yourself from the endless piles of laundry tormenting your life. You don’t go on pilgrimage to escape the monotony of the 9-5 lifestyle or the crippling pursuit of the ‘American Dream’ (ps. that dream is a lie. don’t believe it.). That’s what the swim up bar in Mexico is for. When you’re burnt out on changing total blow out diapers or managing crotchety, cantankerous customers, you don’t set out on pilgrimage. No no no. You grab the first Groupon golden ticket to Señor Cancun’s all-inclusive pina-colada resort. A pilgrimage is a journey with a purpose. And that purpose is truth. It is beauty. It is Christ.
Woven throughout the psalms exists this thread of songs. ‘Songs of Ascent’, they’re called. These are songs written by the faithful pilgrims as they sojourned up toward Jerusalem. I love these psalms. There is something profoundly captivating about them. They draw me in and I resonate with their lyrics. Check ’em out (Psalm 120-134). But don’t just read the words on the page. Engage your imagination. Imagine the thousands of faithful journeying toward Jerusalem, singing these Songs of Ascent. “I lift my eyes toward the hills – from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The eyes of the faithful were set on Jerusalem. Their gaze was fixed. I want to have a fixed gaze.
There is a voice deep within my soul. This voice aids in the practice of fixing my gaze. I heard it for the first time over 25 years ago when I discovered the crazy bliss of running. Every single time I head out on a run I do so because something larger than myself is calling to me. And I respond. “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.” I run because my heart tells me to. My pilgrimage will be filled with long runs through the mountains and along the shores of the Pacific. If a girl’s going on pilgrimage, where else would she want to go but California? As I make my way west I join the voices of pilgrims who have sung for thousands of years the songs of of ascent. “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” This is my song that I must sing. And so, I sojourn.