Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmastide Pilgrimage

In the book The Psalter of the Liturgy of the Hours, in the Christmas evening prayer, the Intercession prayer ends with "You came to earth to lead everyone into the kingdom, share your life of glory with those who have died," there it was: the words that remind us that Jesus came to lead us on a pilgrimage into the kingdom, which was and is and will be part of his very essence of who he is. As one theologian I recently read reminded me, God had one foot in that kingdom, and one foot implanted on earth, in the person of Jesus. Christmastide is a celebration of this truth.

"Once in David's royal city," a pattern for how we are to live was set for us on our pilgrimage.

Emmanuel is with us!

Bien camino,

Pilgrim peace,


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve...

The stores are closing around this part of North Carolina.  Blinking colored lights outline bushes and trees and houses are coming on as the night ushers us into the incredibly brilliant mystery that God deigned to be born among us in the helpless human form of a baby.  Knowing us better than we know ourselves, God knew that we would need something "out of the box" to shake us out of our death-walk into an early disaster.  Jesus--being both God and human--does exactly that: shakes all of creation anew as what Origen called the "auto-basilia" nature of Jesus: the kingdom of God embodied in human form.

The prayer "O Come, Emmanuel!" has found a head-turning response in the form of the Christ-child.

Silent night tonight...

Bien camino, dear Christ-child!

Pilgrim peace, Brett


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Doorways and Horizons on the Pilgrimage of Life

In the last few weeks, I've had a great time seeing the art work by friends.  Their beautiful paintings remind me that I am honored to be among such gifted friends.

Julia Kennedy--whose work is contemporary, with a fantastic collection of colored squares and striking gashes and lines that break the color--had an art show at her house during the Chatham County (NC) Studio Tour.  Julia had one painting that caught my attention: an orange door that reminded me of so many doors in northern New Mexico and northern Spain.  A pilgrimage is always in need of a doorway or portal of time through which we enter into and leave through. With a door, there is always the question of what is going on in life on the other side of the door, or what are we leaving and what are we soon to embrace?

Amanda Millay Hughes also had an art show with her partner Kirsten, in which she had a beautiful set of three water colors showing the vast horizon of marsh land, reminiscent of the marshy areas of North Carolina's eastern coast line.  For pilgrims, horizons just beg the question: "What is on the other side of the horizon line?"

Along with artist friends like Eduardo Lapetina and Shannon Bueker (whose work I will comment upon in upcoming blogs), artists, poets, musicians, liturgists, writers, photographers, playwrights, graphic artists, architects--all artists--have a way of capturing aspects of pilgrimage that some times words fail to capture.  Thanks for the gift of art in the body of Christ.

Bien camino,

Pilgrim peace, Brett 

Connecting Pilgrimage Among World Religions

As I was zooming around various websites tonight, I happened to come upon this interesting article from by Perry Garfinkel (Click this Link). Perry hits upon the inter-religious aspect of pilgrimage, connecting pilgrimage with a trip home during the holidays, to Buddha's pilgrimage on the side of the road:

Pilgrimage is the time-honored journey to places sacred.  Of course, the earnest pilgrim who wisely follows his or her intuitive spiritual compass always arrives at the most sacred of places:one's self.  The ultimate pilgrimage, for those willing to leave their personal baggage behind as they travel, is a rite of passage as much as a passage through time and space.

Pilgrimages take many form and many faces.  Going home for the holidays is a pilgrimage.   Thoreau took a pilgrimage by the side of a pond.  The Buddha took a pilgrimage by the side of a tree and journeyed into the back recesses of his mind, where he came upon a path that leads to happiness.
On the one hand, pilgrimage seems universal and eternal, because pilgrimage is a practice shared among world religions. After all, every world religion shares the truths that we are all human, and that we are all share this one earth. On the other hand, pilgrimage is particular, because the genesis, journey, and destination shape the pilgrim and the pilgrimage uniquely.  Thus, a Christian pilgrimage, shaped in the tradition of the Catholic church is different than a Buddhist pilgrimage in another part of the world.  

Right now, we, in the Christian church, are on a pilgrimage of Christmastide, as we sing on this fourth Sunday of Advent, "Come, thou long expected Jesus, born a child and yet a king!"

Bien camino!

Pilgrim peace, 

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Advent of the Pilgrim God

The late Brother Roger of France's ecumenical monastic community, Taize, wrote that Jesus is the "Pilgrim God" who walks with us on our earthly pilgrimage. For example, Br. Roger reminds us that Jesus was literally on a pilgrimage from the day of his birth, soon taken by his parents on a pilgrimage to Egypt to avoid the slaughtering of the innocent children out of Herod's wrathful vengeance and lust for power. In his ministry upon this earth, Jesus of Nazareth was a walker--to say the least. While there were times that he rode in boats upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee, along with times of rest and teaching when he found his improvisational classroom in the middle of a meadow or in some one's house (and now and then in a synagogue), he was always portrayed by all the Gospel writers as moving by foot, even instructing his disciples to go out and proclaim the Good News with very little in the way of earthly cares. And it was Jesus who was the devout Jew, honoring Passover in his final week of earthly life, an echo of the very pilgrimage that was lived out by the people of God in the Sinai desert.

"Lord, be the companion of our journey," is a simple refrain echoed in a certain litany I learned among the brothers I walked with to Chimayo, NM in 1999. In this season of Advent, on the eve of the celebration of twelve days of Christmas, I look forward to honoring the birth of the Pilgrim God who walked--and continues to walk--upon this earth, this very day.

Bien camino!

Pilgrim peace,


Monday, December 17, 2007

The Pilgrimage of Advent: A Season of Hope

Growing up as a "cradle Christian," I always heard about Advent being a pilgrimage of sorts as we move through the four seasons of the Church year.  In seminary as a student, as well as a professor, I learned, and adhered to the idea of honoring the season with a true celebration of the sense of "coming" of the celebration of Christmas, the birth of Christ.  Yet the malls and stores of America, along with radio stations, television shows, and movies have already "decked the halls" and announced it is Christmas, starting in October.  In terms of pilgrimage, it is like getting to the destination before we did the work that was needed to truly enjoy the festivities and heraldry of the Christ's birth.  Even the pastor at my home church acknowledged such as he welcomed a pageant of Christmas on the third Sunday of Advent yesterday.

In this season of Advent, with themes of joy, hope, peace, and love, I also have done what all non-profit organizations do in this season: send out last minute appeals for funds for the School of the Pilgrim.  It is a season of hope as we embrace 2008 as truly the year of more firmly establishing the School of the Pilgrim.  Plans are afoot for moving into our new office at 309 W. Weaver St., Ste. 200, Carrboro, NC 27510, along with planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, September 23-Oct. 3, 2008.  Please consider a tax deductible donation to the School of the Pilgrim in this last month of 2007!

Also on the horizon: I'm writing a personal essay, "A Pilgrimage of Coming Out" for The Rambler Magazine, tracing the pathway of October's pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestela with my coming "out," officially, that is...

Bien Camino!

Pilgrim peace,