Day by day, as we embark on our regular travels through familiar suburbs, we have goals that keep us focused on where we need to be and what we need to do. We know exactly where each of our children needs to be dropped off, what groceries we are running out of, what clothes need urgent washing…
Once in a while, we head off on longer journeys–we look forward to these with excitement. They take us away from the familiar, to somewhere new and unexplored. They take us away from our daily routines and rushed pace of living–into another rhythm, of another place and mindset.
Pilgrims are travellers whose destinations are holy, spiritual places. The purpose of their journey is to expand their spiritual horizons. That is, to explore those aspects of their lives which lie outside of their materialistic concerns: the experience of their being, of God, and of their values and purpose.
Day by day, as we embark on our regular travels, many of us utilize to-do lists. These help to focus our attention on what we would like to achieve regarding our materialistic responsibilities and the expectations of our roles.
They help us to experience a sense of control over the happenings of our day and keep us motivated with a sense of achievement, as we keep crossing our to-do items off…
Dear pilgrim-esses, I sometimes find that the business of my everyday life, the hustle and bustle around me, the media that bombards my senses–can disconnect me from being mindful of myself as a pilgrim. They may distract me from being mindful of the direction of, and the to-do items on, my most important journey!
So, I like to add a column to my to-do-list, with intentions for my spiritual growth–to empower myself to take charge of how I want my being to unfold and how I want to experience myself and my connection with my faith.
There is a multitude of sport psychology studies that rave about the benefits of setting goals. The top two include: helping us to stay motivated and helping us to take control of what we want to focus our mind on (as opposed to our mind following, like a lost sheep, whatever captures its hold).
Whether I want to:
· Focus on rejoicing in God’s presence in a given moment;
· Foster the experience of love within myself by choosing to care for myself throughout the day, as well as others;
· Show my inner experiences and those of others more compassion;
· Feel connected with the wonder of God’s creation and notice it around me;
· Foster a sense of trust in being God’s creation and in His care;
· Practice the awareness of the blessings around me, by consciously being more grateful;
· Keeping my awareness of my inner peace and joy, even throughout the usual ups and downs of my day;
I find that a small, quiet intention, can go a long way towards shaping that experience for me.
Saint John Paul believed that seeing ourselves as pilgrims is very valuable. He said: “…nothing can give us a profound sense of the meaning of our earthly life …an inner attitude of seeing ourselves as pilgrims.”
However, many women downplay the importance of attending to their inner experience and self-development, as they continue to be influenced by social/historical restrictions such as unequal distribution of power and consideration towards their experience.
"Adventure" and "exploring new horizons," for many, are associated with masculinity. Women’s identity is often tied to attending to others’ wellbeing, within the confines of their homes, more so with seeing themselves as pilgrims.
However, our most significant journeys do not need an expensive plane ticket or an exotic, faraway destination.
Like rivers which travel down the mountain tops, and become part of the vastness of the sea; or travellers who reach mountain summits, to discover the immensity of the Earth–in our own pilgrimages, our beings journey through this life’s pilgrimage. From the usual short-sightedness of our daily emotional patterns and reactions, to a long-sighted appreciation of the vastness of our own and others’ endlessly unfolding beings.
Seeing ourselves as pilgrims and witnessing our own and others’ spiritual growth is a journey with the most breathtaking views of them all.
References: John Paul, and Peter Canisius Johannes van Lierde. Prayers And Devotions From Pope John Paul II. Print. Williams, J. and Krane, V. (2015).
Applied sport psychology. New York (N.Y.): McGtoraw-Hill education.