In this second installment of a three part series regarding Travel, I invite you to see how pilgrimage takes place. Even a trip to the grocery store can bring meaningful change when done as a pilgrimage.


In the introduction to his book, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide To Making Travel Sacred, Huston Smith, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, writes, “The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation–to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. Nothing matters now but this adventure.” This is why people come back from a journey exhausted, because they have been challenged every moment of the way.

Travel brings wisdom, when one is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives new insight and meaning to each step of the journey, as one prays to fully experience the moment. Wisdom comes as one fully encounters the outward scene and then begins to reflect upon how this outward scene impacts one’s inward scene.

Travel can be a double-edged sword, bringing both blessings and curses. Dr. Gibbs, in Thornton Wilder’s, “Our Town”, tells his wife that her desired trip to Paris will only keep them from appreciating Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. He says it is better to stay where they are. This same view is expressed in an old song, published in 1918, with lyrics by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, titled “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)”? The song describes how it was for the U.S. soldiers coming back from World War I and their transition back to small town USA after experiencing Paris. The blessing is to see and experience new things that expand our horizons, and potentially lead us to appreciate in new ways where we have been OR it may bring the potential curse that causes us to no longer appreciate where we have been and brings about a discontent and deepened restlessness Either way, there is a change.

Travel does disturb life and forces one to expand one’s understanding, or, causes one to withdraw, but, one is never the same again.

My travels to four continents have expanded my understanding of the world in ways that

are absolutely unbelievable. However, my travels have also led me to a deeper appreciation for Minneapolis/St. Paul. I live a richer life in the Twin Cities as a result of my times in Berlin, Paris, London, Taipai or Tokyo. In the Twin Cities I have learned to engage in public transportation, enjoy coffee shops in a leisurely manner, attend to the museums and other cultural events, as just a few examples.

I have been asked by travel companies why it is so hard to get Americans to travel outside of the country. I find this to be an interesting question. Europeans and Japanese seem to constantly be traveling all over the world. I really don’t have an answer to the question, but I do think that the result of fewer Americans traveling outside of the country is that we tend to have a more limited view of the world.


Intentionally prepare for the experience to be more than just a trip. Pray to approach the trip with eyes of wonder and curiosity. Pray to see more clearly.

Live in the experience by coming to know the people you encounter along the way. Mrs. Gibbs in “Our Town” says that Babylon had over two million residents where fathers came home from work, ate their dinner and went to bed after interacting with their families and all we know about Babylon is a few kings and a few treaties. How might you come to experience and better understand, the lives of the day to day people with whom you come in contact?

Pray each morning that your eyes, your ears, and your mind be open to the new experiences and the resulting changes in your life.

Reflect upon the pivotal moments of the day and ask how each has served to bring you transformation.

Pray for a transition back to your regular place, in order to find that home is enriched because of the pilgrimage.

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