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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pilgrimage: Our Lives Are Not Fixed Until the End

I recently finished reading the travel book A Sense of Direction, Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful, by Gideon Lewis-Kraus, a most interesting one. I'm taken by one paragraph that seems to say a lot about pilgrimage and life in general.

"There is no such thing as knowing, once and for all, where you stand with someone. Life has no fixed points. But pilgrimage does; that is the point. And the fixed points of a pilgrimage allow people to exist for each other in motion."

Life is constant motion. Two people, or even a group of people, can never be doing anything but meeting each other in motion. We're either moving toward each other, away from each other, or walking together in the same direction. Even when we meet, it's only a temporary meeting. We can never know each other except as fleeting, perhaps even elusive, beings.

If we buy into the concept that life itself is a pilgrimage, then we learn to live as if we're on an adventure, a journey, along with other people. Yes, our lives have a beginning, a middle, an ending. It may even be scripted out in advance without our knowing the script. So we're discovering ourselves all the time on our pilgrimage, our journey through life. There is no one event, no one experience, no one moment that defines us. We're constantly being defined by our journey. We're constantly discovering who we are.

Of course, we need to realize that our fellow human beings are also on a pilgrimage, one that may or may not coincide with ours. We need to honor that in each other. We're all still discovering who we are, and will be until the end.
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