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Pilgrimage to Rome
Monday 29th April 2019
I have just finished watching the BBC series Pilgrimage and it led me to re-read Gerard W Hughes book In Search of a Way about his own pilgrimage to Rome in the 1970s. I thought some of my observation on his words might be of interest:
The beauty and peace of the countryside you walk though takes hold of you like an inner cleansing of the mind and senses and you begin to notice simple things, the rocks, the flowers, the birds as though you are seeing them for the first time, learning new spiritual truths on the way.
Silence and space: the silence on the path is not the noisy kind of silence you keep when in the city, where you try to avoid all the noisy distractions. The silence of the path is of a different quality. There is no need to practice silence there, rather the silence takes hold of you.
There is space and time to relish this truth. Being alone in this landscape makes you meditate on your smallness, leading you to a sense wonder and abandonment of life and gratitude for it.
In the context of this vastness you realise you actually have much less control over life than you thought which makes it easier to give up control to the infinity of God and this is also important for making decisions not to move into uncharted territory.
Let the surroundings help you learn to pray: not from the scriptures but from the sea, the sky, the plants around him. Learn how to pray without words. Prayer is so different to thinking. Thinking is like preparing the route before climbing a mountain. Praying is the climb itself - a totally different experience.
If you start to feel God in the surroundings then let God into your heart, not your head: You can start to see God around you in these natural landscapes and start to feel God's love deep in your heart.
Experience the love of God on the way. Come to understand that ultimately God is love. Everything else, all the theology, doctrines and practices lead to this but can also get in the way. The pilgrimage is a good place to understand and experience this.
On the way you may get glimpses of a new reality: When you walk your thoughts usually come in a jumble and the surroundings pass by without you really noticing. But occasionally they all line up and you experience an amazing clarity and inner peace. Occasionally these revelations come together and they become like glimpses of reality. Buddhists call this transendence and some might even call it heaven.