Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fund Raising Appeal

'Tis the end of the season for giving to non-profits, and like all good non-profits, we are asking for your support as well!

Please consider supporting the School of the Pilgrim in 2010! Please go to, and go to the link on the left hand side that says "Contribute," and follow those easy directions.

Many thanks for those who gave.

Many thanks for those who work with us.

Many thanks for those who keep us in their prayers.

And many thanks for those about to give.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holy Family Sunday

Starting right off the bat, the Holy Family is about to take off for Egypt on the first of many pilgrimages in the young Jesus' life.

This today in the book review on Peter Ackroyd's book, THE CANTERBURY TALES: A RETELLING (Viking, 2009):

"Ackroy'ds vision of The Canterbury Tales could be read to imply we are all on a pilgrimage to our final destination, seeking to derive pleasure on our journeys by telling and listening to stories of love, deceit, sensuality, triumph. It is this belief in story as a way to connect us, to help us form and understand our culture."

We are all on our pilgrimage!

Celebrate the place where you, where we, are on our pilgrimage, and tell and listen to the stories.


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Birth of the Pilgrim God

We begin the season of re-tracing the movements of the divine pilgrimage of the creating God on earth again.

For those of us who are caught on a cusp of doing and being something new in this world, we draw great succor from this story of Jesus' birth. Because God was present with us in not only human form, but the form of a helpless, powerless infant.

Soon, the story takes the unexpected turn into an actual pilgrimage as the sojourn of the holy family into Egypt soon takes place.

Did God have any idea this was going to happen?

We hope to offer a pilgrimage of the Holy Family in Egypt in 2011...

With the School of the Pilgrim, we hope that all who read this blog have a blessed Christmas season.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

John the Baptizer: A Man on a Vision Quest

in his book Radical Grace, Richard Rohr suggests that John the Baptizer was a wild man who went on a vision quest into the desert where he faced his aloneness, boredom, and naked self. He returned with a message, a clarity, a surety of heart that reveals a totally surrendered man.

In other words, John was a pilgrim, following the Pilgrim God.

Happy Advent.


Monday, December 21, 2009

St. Nicholas of Myra

I am being followed by the spirit of St. Nicholas.

First I heard of my home church in Oregon--Presbyterian no less--celebrating St. Nicholas in an Advent pageant; second, I am on the plane going out to OR, and the National Geographic special on tv on the plane: St. Nicholas of Myra, and the re-discovery of his bones; third: heard St. Nicholas of Myra's story by and through the music of Benjamin Britten, a favorite composer of mine.

St. Nicholas was patron saint of sailors, of people with disabilities, and children.

Fourteen hundred year old saint.

Happy birthday, or anniversary, or feast day, St. Nick!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walking the Wrong Way is OK Sometimes

While I would like to think I'm always going the right direction in life, or headed the right way, I know that there are times on pilgrimage and life-as-pilgrimage in which I was headed the wrong way and had to finally ask for help and turn and re-trace my steps to go the right way.

Richard Rohr (from Radical Grace) affirms my frustrating ways:

The Scriptures very clarly have a "bias toward action." Simply put, the word of God tells us that i you don't do it, you in face have not heard it and do not believe it (James 1:22-25).

Faith: when we cross a line for a new way based on what we believe the Kingdom values are, walking is probably a lot more important than talking, even if we walk the wrong way for a while."

Thanks, Richard!




Though I couldn't get a decent picture of a starry night in the Sinai, I got this photo on the top of Mt. Sinai as the sun was setting.

I am amazed at the play of light in this holiday season, with Hanukkah and Advent/Christmas celebrating the importance of light, with Muslim's celebrating Eid and the warmth of light in family love.

A celebration of light.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Talking About the School of the Pilgrim

On a recent trip to OR, I had a great opportunity to share about the School of the Pilgrim in coincidental meetings with friends and complete strangers who soon became friends.

There is a story to tell about pilgrimage!

Peace, B

Sunday, December 13, 2009


In the Sinai pilgrimage, we read The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane, in which Belden writes about the experience of the desert in the Negev, Sinai, and Ghost Ranch, comparing it to his mother's dying in a care facility. She is in her own desert, unable to communicate, and the family is in its own fierce landscape.

In my family, we've entered that fierce landscape with my father's slowing down in his 87th year of life. He is slowly drifting into his new landscape, while we watch, unable to arouse him from his sleepy stupor.

We are in a new and strange land.

We are waiting.



Pace, B

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being Surprised by What We Find Ahead of Us

What I've learned and keep re-learning on pilgrimage---both an actual pilgrimage and the pilgrimage of life--is that I am always surprised by what is ahead of us. While there are moments that I think I know what is ahead, hope I know what is ahead, plan on what I think I will find, I am always surprised by the unexpected that greets me, whether I'm ready or not.

It is learning to live in the ambiguity of the present of what could be, and the "what if," and being at peace with such ambivalence, being open to the journey that is, and that is ahead.

In the Sinai, I could see the outline of mountain ranges ahead and behind, not knowing what was in those valleys and peaks, but knowing it would be incredible nonetheless.

The same is true in life's pilgrimage.

My hope is to always keep the unexpected and the surprise ever before me in the Spirit led path I am on currently.



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In the middle of today's and tonight's rain in NC, I dream of the Sinai

Here's another image of the Sinai!

What is amazing is that camels followed after one another with little encouragement. And they are incredibly well, um, built or created: they drink very little and eating is a fascinating phenomenon: eat, regurgitate, eat some infinitum.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Finally, My Camel

Musha Mush, or Apricot in Arabic...B

Yet one more camel...

And another camel...

A Moment with the Camels

Saw a painting of a camel by my friend Shannon Bueker and thought about camels on the pilgrimage.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

O Come O Come Emmanuel!

It was fascinating to be sitting in worship today, participating in Eucharist, remembering that I was on the top of Mt. Sinai with a bottle of Omar Khayyam red wine and flat bread at sunset.

The verse that sprung out at me in singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" was this:

O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel!



Our Pilgrimages Under the School of the Pilgrim!

Here is the unique part of our pilgrimages, such as the ones we are offering in 2010:

* we will be asking people to prepare intellectually, spiritually, and intellectually before the pilgrimage begins. We will send a book for everyone to read before hand, and then discuss the readings on pilgrimage. We will continue to ask you to consider praying certain prayers. And we would like people to train physically, walking a mile or two a day for two weeks before hand;

* we will asking people to continue to stay connected with us for four weeks via on-line, wifi connections after everyone returns. Month one we will be on-line together once a week; month two, three times a month; month three, two times a month; and month four, one time. This last month, if people are close by geographically, we may all get together for a retreat. The idea behind this gathering and on-line connection is helping/assisting people to stay connected as they try to discern the pilgrimage path they are currently on, right where we live;

* we will include a hands on service project along and within the pilgrimage itself. We are in the process of making those connections currently. This last part about the School of the Pilgrim important: service is intrinsic to all pilgrimages because we are welcomed as strangers, embodying within us the Holy One and likewise, in working with and meeting other strangers, we meet the Holy One within them. And it makes School of the Pilgrim pilgrimages a tax free pilgrimage.

Come one, come all!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

PIlgrimages 2010

There are two of them!

1. April 10-21, 2010: From Sinai to Tabor: wandering along the trail of beauty from the Negev following the traces of Abraham and Sarah, to Mt. Sinai and Moses and Elijah, to Mt. Tabor--Mount of Transfiguration--to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. All for the price of $2,500!

2. Nov. 13-23, 2010: Wilderness Wanderings in the Sinai, spending a few days walking, riding in a jeep, and a few days on camel back, along with a trip to St. Catherine's Monastery of the Sinai.