Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mapping Buddha

In today's Oregonian there is an interesting article on mapping the way of Buddhist beliefs. While on the "outside" of being Buddhist seems easier-said-than-done, apparently being "inside" the Buddhist tradition makes it no easier. The book, "Mapping the Dharma" by Paul Gerhards, charts and lists key parts of Buddha's s teachings called the Dharma: the Three characteristics of Existence, the Seven Factors for Awakening, and the list goes on.

For pilgrims of all faiths, I thought this was a meaningful line: "The Buddha said that a map is not the's merely a tool of discovery" said Gerhard. On pilgrimage, our stories become a map that enable us to discover the world of pilgrim's yearning.

Click here for more.

Pilgrim peace,


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Elias Chacour and the School of the Pilgrim

I heard a great sermon and spoke briefly with the Rev. Dr. Bishop Elias Chacour this morning at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Rev. Chacour is a Palestinian Christian who lives in the West Bank who preached this morning before the participants of this Assembly. He is, by his own confession, a "living contradiction": Palestinian, Christian and Israeli.

As he was walking out of one meeting to another I button-holed him with a card of the School of the Pilgrim, which led to possible connections in the future with the School of the Pilgrim.

His invitation was clear: he wanted us to go and visit the Holy Land, to see what is happening to the Palestinian people. He said that Christians are leaving as quickly as possible from this part of the world because of the violence.

It is time for a change in that part of the world.

Buen camino,

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Support for the School of the Pilgrim

I am in the middle of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meeting in San Jose, California. Since I arrived on Sat. afternoon at 1:00 P.M., to the time I began writing this blog, I have found myself handing out cards and book marks to and of the School of the Pilgrim to at least 20-50 people. Along with "how are you?" discussions, I have found myself drifting to conversations about the School of the Pilgrim.

What have I found in these conversations?

Affirmation; support; love; admiration; and people who want to support the mission of the School of the Pilgrim.

This is exciting. There is nothing like coming into this context and finding support.

For example, in signing books at the Cokesbury Bookstore pavilion at the Assembly, I found myself telling three people about going on pilgrimage in the coming year. Today, at the reception for the new Moderator I found myself giving business cards away. Lunch and dinner were about conversations re: the School of the Pilgrim. And there will be more opportunities in the coming days.

Your prayers, support, financial gifts, make this an exciting time.


Buen camino!

Pace, Brett

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jesus Went About All the Cities and Villages

In the Gospel of Matthew 9:35-10:8, the reading opens up with Jesus on his pilgrimage: Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them ,because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. The he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into God's harvest.'"

Fantastic! When I saw that this was the reading for this coming Sunday, and heard it read aloud, I thought to myself, "I need to read this more often on pilgrimage." I know that reading and hearing these passages in context, or different contexts, matters. Imagine hearing these words read while on pilgrimage to Santiago, or in Jerusalem, or in St. Patrick's Purgatory. The one who is the embodiment of the kingdom, the realm, the dominion of God, going around on his earthly pilgrimage teaching spontaneously in synagogues in the countryside, or talking in open meadows to those who were simply eager to hear the good news and see the good news in action.


Buen Camino!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Long Road Ahead...and a Little Help From Our Friends, in Heaven and Earth

On pilgrimage I keep learning and re-learning these two lessons: first, the road, the journey, the trek, the pilgrimage is long. Second: because it is long, we can always use the help of our friends, whether on earth or in heaven, e.g., the footsteps of saints before us, as well as those saints among us.

This lesson came to the fore in reading Andrew Sullivan's blog,, and a quote from Tim Russert, who died on Friday, June 13th:

"I’m someone who grew up taught by the Sisters of Mercy and the Jesuits. And both those nuns and those priests taught me, and taught us, my classmates, how to pray--that it simply wasn't the recitation of memorized prayer but meditation and contemplation.

The situation you're talking about is when my wife was in labor for a long time, I walked out of the hospital and walked around the corner and there was a church. And actually, it was a shrine to Saint Elizabeth who is the mother of Mary, the mother of God, which is more than ironic and important.

And so I, constantly, realize it's a long road, it's a long journey, and we can't get there alone. And so I'm very open and find it quite necessary to ask for help and assistance and inspiration. And that comes in a very powerful way in the form of prayer," - Tim Russert, great Catholic.

Russert is correct: we cannot get there to heaven's gates, or realize that the domain of God is breaking into our world through gestures of hospitality and kindness, except with a little assistance and inspiration. Or as my friend Richard Rodriguez would remind me: Me against God is a losing case. We need grace to approach the throne of God...along with the saints, the candles, the incense, the cross on the wall, and the bells tolling and music playing.

Or as the Beatles remind us, "Oh, we get by with a little help from our friends..."

Buen camino!



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

School of the Pilgrim: Becoming a Validated Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Today I met with members of the Committee on Ministry of New Hope Presbytery, presenting my case to make the School of the Pilgrim a validated ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA). After presenting the ideas behind the School of the Pilgrim, I had an opportunity to answer some questions, and then they voted "Affirmative!" This means that it goes forward to the entire Presbytery on July 15, 2008!

Thanks for the prayers!

Buen Camino!

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The First Pilgrimage in the Jewish-Christian Tradition: "Go from your country"

Today's Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture in the Revised Lectionary was from Genesis 12:1-3, in which the passage was the following: Yahweh said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

This is the first pilgrimage narrative that establishes the practice of pilgrimage for the Jewish and Christian communities of faith. And it is wonderful and scary. Let me begin with the scary: the call of faith that Abram follows-through with, moving forward and leaving the known home and the land he knows so well, with Sarai, unto the unknown. There were no hotels or private Albergues or Refugios: only nomad meeting nomad.

The wonderful part? That Abram and Sarai did move forward, and did depend upon God, and God did deliver. God delivers, lives up to God's promise, meaning that we don't have to be "God" on our pilgrimages. God will provide.

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace,