As I was zooming around various websites tonight, I happened to come upon this interesting article from Huffingtonpost.com 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!"