Wednesday, July 30, 2008

School of the Pilgrim: The Movie

Enjoy the movie, "The School of the Pilgrim!" We're now "up" on Youtube. Go to "," and enter "School of the Pilgrim," and that does it.

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feeling Hungry on Pilgrimage

I am in the middle of a pilgrimage route. My stomach will soon speak volumes to me with the first little "eek" of hunger pang. I learned on pilgrimage to keep drinking and eating, even if you don't feel the thirst or pang. I drink a lot, and eat more trail mix than I care to think about. I do what I learned on my first long bike ride (1700 miles from Spokane to San Francisco when I was eighteen years old): I eat as much as I want, when I want, however I want, because I am about to burn it off. On my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela I walked with a group of American women who kept on asking how they were going to keep the weight off that they had lost on the Camino when they got home.

Weight. Hunger. Thirst. Pangs. This is pilgrimage.

I''m working on this upcoming Sunday's sermon, based upon Jesus feeding the five thousand...those folks who were on pilgrimage, following the prophet, the miracle worker, the craftsperson, the learned rabbi from Nazareth. They came and listened to him as he preached in the middle of fields and from the end of boats.

In the middle of it all, Jesus showed hospitality, feeding the 5000 men, along with a few thousand more women and children (Matt.14:21). Having been hungry and thirsty on pilgrimage, I can only imagine the joy that swept the masses.

It is that hungry pang, that thirst, to draw closer to God, that mimics the physical hunger and thirst. And as a result of God knowing of this thirst, the result is amazing: bounty is the answer, provided none other than the God of creation.

Manna. Fish. Bread. Wine. Water.

All part of God, and God's good care of us all.

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace,


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pilgrim Quotes

Of course, being ALL about the pilgrim and pilgrimage, I cannot help but find these quotes and pick up on them, reflect and ponder, and then write them down.

So this is today's quote: Abraham Cowley, "Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make." As a writer, pastor, professor, and artist--and pilgrim--I have to say that Cowley's quote strikes me about right.  I am constantly asking, "What's coming around the next corner?" or the next day when I am on pilgrimage.

It is this "spirit" that I work toward integrating in my daily life.

Bien camino!

Pilgrim peace,


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Martin Buber Understood Pilgrimage

Tonight on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" radio show (7/26/08, broadcast/aired on WUNC, 91.5), Garrison made this point about pilgrimage and journey by the philosopher Martin Buber that I had to write about: All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. The truth of this statement in regards to pilgrimage resonated in the deepest parts of my life and life-experiences. On pilgrimage, while I think I know about the physical, geographical destination, clearly the relational, spiritual, educational, psychological, intellectual, and physical destination or goal or purpose remain, at best intangible...or at worst totally incomprehensible, and thus missed totally by the pilgrim or pilgrims. Buber simply reminds us that pilgrimage is not a "sure fire thing," in which goals and purposes and behaviors can be quantified, known, studied, put on a chart, examined, and parsed. Pilgrimage is all being in the moment, reflecting upon the moments, living in the wonder of it all, before, during and afterwards.

The journey is "on"!

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love": A Woman's Wondrous Pilgrimage

"Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark." (p. 175)

Elizabeth Gilbert has a Kierkegaardian sense to her, all right! She continues:
"If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be...a prudent insurance policy. I'm not interested in the insurance industry. I'm tired of being a skeptic, I'm irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate...I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water."

I'm going to share clips from this book in the weeks to come. Pretty interesting pilgrimage she is on...more of a personal quest than a holy pilgrimage. Interesting and beautiful and insightful nonetheless.


Buen Camino!

Peace of pilgrims, Brett

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our New School of the Pilgrim Promotion Slide Show

With the techie expertise of Dr. Wally Hannum, photos by Jaqui Tutt of NZ, and music from Spain, we present to you the new promotional slide show of the School of the Pilgrim!


Click here to enjoy!

Buen camino!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jacob's Ladder: A Life of Faith in Motion

This morning's Old Testament reading was a perfect reminder of how much the Holy Scriptures are all about navigating the road of the pilgrims' life: Jacob's ladder from Gen. 28:10-19 captured the calling of God's people to be people on the move, in motion, in faith: Jacob dreamt there was a ladder set up on earth reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending, with God telling him that the land that he lies on will be given to him and his offspring, who will be like dust on the earth, spread to the west, east, north and south. And we will know that God is with us!

The assurance that God is with us, whether we think we are with God or not, is then echoed in today's Psalm, a favorite of mine: Ps. 139: "Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there." God is our constant companion.

Even the Gospel of Matthew resonated with a wandering farmer who spreads good seed in the field.

In our lives as pilgrims on earth, it is all about moving and motion, in faith, by grace, with love. God chose and continues to choose us to be a pilgrim people, God's pilgrim people, to keep sharing the love of God, and news of God's realm and reign far and wide.

Time is God's time: we are God's people moving with the Spirit, following the Spirit God!

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

School of the Pilgrim: A Validated Ministry of New Hope Presbytery

Yesterday morning, Tue., July 15, 2008, under an omnibus motion, the School of the Pilgrim was made a "validated ministry of New Hope Presbytery."


From what was almost ten years ago a wisp of a dream, an inkling, a simple naming "School of the Pilgrim," to being both a religious non-profit/501c3 and a validated ministry of New Hope Presbytery and the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2008, offering a bevy of pilgrimages in 2008 and 2009 is say the least.

This is truly God's doing; a gift of grace.

A big "thank you" to all of you who support the School in your prayers, volunteering of time and effort, and financially. It is because of your support, as a community of pilgrims, that all of this validation is occurring.

What does this all mean? Simple:
* The School of the Pilgrim is more than a pipe-dream or a flirtatious idea: it is real and tangible, understood as legitimate by a part of the Church universal;
* I can go into meetings about future pilgrimage events and explain to people who run conference centers, pilgrimage sites, and continuing education offices that we are a validated ministry of the PCUSA, giving us a legitimacy that does not hurt in sharing the virtues of the practice of pilgrimage;
* This validation provides me and others who work with the School and are ordained the possibility of full benefits, including pension, health, disability, death, and dental care;
* This validation is also helpful in writing grants and loan applications in terms of giving us a legitimacy that most grant-funding organizations look for in applicants.

Many thanks!

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace, Brett

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jesus Trail: Traveling the Old Country

"Walking the Jesus Trail" was a recent article in the News and Observer. Two entrepreneurs built the trail walking in the "footsteps of Jesus," for forty miles. David Landis and Maoz Inon began and blazed this trail that connects with Nazareth with K(C)ana, to Arbel Cliffs, Tabgha, Mout of Beatitudes, to the Jordan River. I didn't see it connecting with Mt. Tabor/Mount of Transfiguration.

Now no one knows exactly where Jesus walked. And we are sure it wasn't in a circle like this pilgrimage. It is clear that Jesus grew up in Nazarth, Cana is where there was a miracle; Mount of Beatitudes is near the spot where Peter was surprised to find Jesus, in his post-resurrection glory, cooking fish for b'fast. Having been there, seen that, loved it, it is clear that Egeria, who wrote of these places in her diary, learned of these places from the Byzantines who took care of these places since the day of, um, Jesus.

Go to this link ""


And click here for the article.

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace,


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Trading Backpacks with Jesus

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is from Matt. 11, in which Jesus invites us to switch yoke and backpacks with him.

What a great invitation. What an audacious request. What a hard commandment to keep. On this pilgrimage of life I am well-acquainted with all of the brick-brack that I have accumulated and bring along with me in life. My back-pack is filled with everything that I thought was necessary to bring along, weighing me down day by day, slowing my walk on the pilgrim trail, until I begin to no longer find my stride with God, but start to almost crawl. Fearing that God cannot handle the items that I put in my sack, I weigh myself down unnecessarily.

Then along comes this verse: take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, and I shall give you rest. It is not "may give you rest," but "shall." So I stop, take off my backpack, and trade with Jesus and take his backpack. It is lighter, and I can move far more easily, finding my stride again in walking with the Companion of this journey.

Pilgrims: this is a verse we should read daily and not every three years.

Buen camino!

Pilgrim peace,


Friday, July 4, 2008


Sitting by a young man, Troy, on a flight from Newark to Charlotte on my way home to Raleigh, Troy volunteered that he felt that God was "calling me to be in the wilderness." He loved the idea of pilgrimage, and thought he'd give us a "look-see" soon.

So God does call people into the wilderness, even today.

And what does wilderness mean to us today?

Does it mean to be in a place that is stripped bare of all that we are dependent upon in terms of material needs? Troy himself was reading a book on the necessity of fasting, declaring to me that he was going to go through a five day fast soon. Is our wilderness a place we put ourselves, or God's Spirit places us?

Wilderness talk on July 4th: amazing!

Pilgrim peace,