I just finished reading a book by Charles Foster. It is a book called THE SACRED JOURNEY, and it is all about the practice of pilgrimage. It is the final installment in The Ancient Practices Series from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
This book on pilgrimage is not just a book by an academic that has studied pilgrimages, it is by a man who has practiced the discipline of pilgrimages for what seems to be decades. The author shares authentic insight as he talks about his highs and lows on journeys to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago, and Canterbury.
The first portion of the book lobbies persuasively for the importance of pilgrimage for spiritual development. It also makes the argument that God made humanity to be nomadic. The author clearly goes through Biblical history to make the point that "God is on the side of the wanderer".
The next portion of the book tends to the practical aspects of going on a pilgrim journey. In this section, Foster attempts to answer some basic questions about how to go on a pilgrimages, some of the things you need to do as you go, and some of the attitudes you need to have or avoid as a pilgrim.
The final portion of the book attempts to answer some criticism of pilgrimages. Those critics include those who have physical limitations that prohibit pilgrimage, as well as the arguments of most of the reformers who saw theological and financial abuses of pilgrimage sites.
I loved this book. I had to read it slow, and take it all in a little bit at a time. The Sacred Journey makes a persuasive argument for all believers to go on some sort of pilgrimage if they are physically able. It made me think about the journey I would like to make, and whether it would be somewhere traditional or something I would want to go that is unique to me.
What I loved more than the concept of going on the pilgrimage was the Biblical foundation for being a wanderer. As a minister, it made me think a lot. On one hand, there are a lot of pastors and church leaders out there that lobby strongly for settling in one place for 10-20 years in ministry. Many also believe that this is healthy for people, this physical commitment of being "grounded" in one place.
I have always felt like more of a wanderer. Having moved several times as a child, and moved around a little bit in my adult years, I have at times felt judged for not staying in the same place. I have also felt the loss of being "from somewhere" and feeling like I could "go home". Yet, Foster makes the argument for being nomadic, and how this was true of Jesus, Abraham, Moses, and others. I felt comforted.
I recommend you read this book. Be ready to be challenged. Be ready to see things from a different point of view. If you do see things from a different viewpoint, you have taken the first step toward a new journey.
*This book was given to me in exchange for reviewing it by booksneeze.com and Thomas Nelson publishers. I was free to review the book as I saw fit, and a favorable review was not requested or required.