on being consecrated as the 129th Bishop of St Davids
on Saturday 21st January 2017
What is a Pilgrimage?
A pilgrimage is a journey inward as well as outward. Pilgrims seek to strengthen and renew their faith through travel.
Our working definition of pilgrimage is a transformative journey to a sacred centre.
That’s what makes being a pilgrim different from being a tourist. For a tourist, travel is an end in itself. For a pilgrim, travel is a means to an end. Pilgrims travel with a clear intention, to draw closer to G_d. They make their journey with a heightened expectation. As John Bunyon famously described pilgrims and their spiritual progress (1678):
There’s no discouragement; To make them once relent; Their first avowed intent; To be a pilgrim.
Pilgrimage is sacred travel, travel as a sacrament. You may know the definition of a sacrament: “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Our travel to historical and sacred sites associated with St David & St Non is the outward part, our drawing closer to G_d is the inward part.
And thus we expect to return transformed or changed or converted from the person we were when we began our journey. We will not return the same as we were when we left. Pilgrims return from their journey with a “boon”, something good that will enrich their lives in the everyday world back at home. We’ll experience life differently upon returning. T.S. Eliot in the Four Quartets (1943) put it this way:
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.