Thursday, April 16, 2009


When does a pilgrimage begin? Our Kilimanjaro pilgrimage began when we began to recognize our climb as a pilgrimage, a recognition that dawned rather slowly. Marty had brought the daily lectionary readings, I'd brought an assortment of "mountain psalms." (E.g., Ps. 15: LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy mountain? Whoever walks without blame, doing what is right, speaking truth from the heart; ....Whoever acts like this shall never be shaken.) In the lectionary's gospel readings, we found food for thought and conversation, while the mountain psalms set the context, as we climbed this "Mountain of the Lord." We were not on Mount Zion, but still--if the Lord can be found on one mountain, then surely that means that all mountains are "holy by association." This kind of thinking lies deep in the sacramental imagination: if some bread and some wine carry the presence of Christ, then all food, all drink, even all the material universe, can be seen as capable of bearing the holy. The sacramental imagination makes us mystics of matter.

We are in the progress of preparation for this new pilgrimage, one that will be pilgrimage from the start. On Kili, the nature of the climb as pilgrimage dawned on us. Here, we start with the word "pilgrimage." What will dawn on us, perhaps, is the meaning of the word pilgrimage, and what pilgrimage will mean for us.

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