Jumpstart Your Pilgrimage

Setting out on your at-home spiritual journey

Are you inspired to make a pilgrimage of your own but unable to take an extended break from work and family life? Pilgrimage, an intentional spiritual journey, can happen anywhere—all it takes is planning and intentionality. For instance, walking El Camino de Santiago in your own backyard or neighborhood is as simple as deciding to break up the 500-mile walk into manageable pieces—gradually tracking your progress as you symbolically make your way towards St. James’s remains. Mark your progress and your milestones as you “arrive” to big cities or attractions along your chosen route; use books and photos that will help you feel you are making the journey without leaving town.

The benefits of pilgrimage can be mental, physical, spiritual, emotional or relational. As you plan your unique journey, think through the following four steps as guideposts to an effective pilgrimage, one that recognizes the beauty of your current circumstances and pushes you to mature in your relationship with God, community and self.

  1. Set your intention.
    Are you drawn to pilgrimage to grow closer to God? Are you mourning the loss of a loved one? Hoping to become healthier by committing to honor God through walking? Whatever your personal reasons are, it is important to establish your intention at the outset of your pilgrimage and return to that intention as your journey ebbs and flows. What is your intention?
  2. Determine your path.
    Will you be imitating a well-known trail or creating one of your own? Look for space you can easily access and mark out how long you would like your path to be. For example, if you live close to a park, make use of the space and map out an easily definable half-mile loop to walk regularly. Then you’ll be able to multiply that distance by the number of laps required to meet your daily distance goals. What is your path?
  3. Set a structure.
    When making a pilgrimage at home, it is often hard to prioritize your spiritual journey over the demands of everyday life. Be sure to set a realistic and consistent time frame where you can fully engage in both your spiritual and physical life. Allow for flexibility rather than holding yourself rigidly to expectations that may set you up for disappointment. What is your structure?
  4. Choose your community.
    No one pilgrim is ever truly alone on the journey. Whether you choose to complete your project on your own or invite your congregation to join you, be sure to identify who your support system is. Being able to lean on others to keep you accountable is an integral part of the spiritual journey.
    Who is your community? Who will be figuratively or literally walking alongside you?

>> Whether by yourself or in community with friends and family, any season of the year is a good time to get moving! Six weeks of moving your spirit as well as your feet is a good length of time for setting goals and establishing new habits. Your calendar is a great tool for planning for pilgrimage at home throughout the year.
Visit store.churchhealth.org for devotional resources for your travels.


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