Posts Tagged With: books

Readings on Pilgrimage

photoThese past months many of the books I’ve opened have provided new views into pilgrimage – refining and rekindling my own vision of this type of journey. If you are looking for some ways into pilgrimage – whether a journey to a foreign land or a journey through life. Here are a few suggested readings.

In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, Jim Belcher

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look,and ask for the ancient paths,where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. – Jeremiah 6:16

After finishing the narrative of this pilgrimage to articulate faith, to rest, and to build a foundation for a family, I wanted even more to head out on such a journey. Quickly I was thinking about who to invite, where we would go, the focus of the time, and more. However, the journey that Belcher lays out is not only about going to lands away from home, but into the faith lives before us today. So this is where I left this book. Exploring my own search for faith – and in the back of my mind planning the next pilgrimage.

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, Steven Garber

This is not a head-in-the-sand, idealized view of vocation, but one of taking an honest look at the world around us – where God has placed us, with whom he has placed us, and who we are. Garber references Walker Percy’s concept of “pilgrim in the ruins.” In our lives we are on a sacred journey, but it’s not paved in gold with step-by-step directions laid out for us. Instead it’s through the reality of the brokenness of this world, including ourselves, that we find the grace of vocation.

Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, Phileena Heuretz

“It’s a story of awakening, darkness and transformation. It’s a story of being born. It’s a story of striving to be free. As a Christian it is a story of ongoing transformation in the image of Christ.”

Phileena Heuertz’ contemplation of her sabbatical takes readers through the journey walked and the struggles and transformations that she entered along the way – through God’s grace. Don’t think you have time or need to take time for contemplation? Heuretz story shows how this seemingly quiet practice is essential, especially for those of us in the midst of an active life.

Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, Alan Jacobs

“I love the essay primarily because it is the genre par excellence of wayfaring.”  This book is an excellent example of wayfaring through writing and literature as Jacobs’ readings and musings open up new avenues of thought and adventure.

Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, Karen Swallow Prior

“I have carried this book and many, many others, all these years. And they have made me who I am.” It was wonderful to journey with Prior through her life with books – Charlotte’s Web, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Madame Bovary, and more. So many people have been made by books and all the worlds they contain. This is a great way to get to know someone, even ourselves, and to set out on a journey.

Holy is the Day, Carolyn Weber

Carolyn Weber takes readers through a journey of living in the present, not because everything was going so well that she wanted to capture the unambiguous happiness of life, but because even in the pain – which she details through several physical and emotional struggles – there is something to realize as a gift beyond ourselves. I was drawn to her story – that of an English professor in the throes of tenure, sabbatical, publishing, raising a family, and seeking to follow God. Into this story she weaves poetry and prose – Chesterton, Lewis, Donne, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Sayers – along with scripture – Daniel, Jonah, Jesus, Peter, Paul, Mary – providing a rich context for living.

 

So pilgrimages – journeys of transformation through stories of meaning. The paths can be through literature, our vocations, life challenges and more. Above all, God’s grace guides us as we are open and aware to see the steps before us. What readings have encouraged your thoughts on pilgrimage?

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Finding a Little House

Leaving behind the river town of Hannibal on my mini-pilgrimage last summer, I spent an afternoon driving to Mansfield, Missouri to see Rocky Ridge – Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home during her writing life.  On the edge of the town’s square – complete with bandstand and memorials – I stayed at the Weaver Inn Bed and Breakfast.  Here was a sanctuary where I could revitalize before going to the next pilgrimage site.  After eating an authentic Mexican dinner at a small place next door, I took a reconnaissance drive to Rocky Ridge and then returned to take a much needed rest.

Rocky Ridge

The next morning, after a filling breakfast, I was off.  Similar to my time at Mark Twain’s sites, I toured the museum and the house.  However, these places were a little more rustic and not as sleek. The glass display cases contained items from Laura and her family – quilts, photographs, and tableware – labeled with hand-typed cards.  I felt I was peering in into the attic treasures of this family.  At one point, a guide directed some of the other guests to look at Pa’s fiddle, one of the more popular items in the museum.  Pa’s fiddle?  Ah, yes, that emblematic item of the Little House on the Prairie stories and television shows.  What I remember most about Pa’s fiddle are the sarcastic comments my father would make related to the television show and how Pa always managed to save the day.  Somehow I had walked right by it this relic.  Yes, relics.  In many ways this site had the feel of a reliquary, a place to honor the ‘bones’ of a saint, more than a mere museum that preserves the past.

This feeling continued as I entered the small, white house – a full immersion experience.  Unlike other historical houses I’ve visited, the guides did not provide caveats about this house being lived in by the writer, but the items only period pieces that they may have owned.  No, this was the house as Laura left it when she died.  She and her husband, Almanzo, had placed, if not created, everything, including the additions to the original small house.  Beds, books, pots, tables – everything was theirs.  They looked through these windows and decided on that wall paper.  I wanted to browse through the shelves of books that they purchased and read, but that was not part of the tour.

We left through the front door, crossing over a threshold that had seen much life.  Creation emanated from this little house in the forms of Laura’s books and Almanzo’s farming.  It was good to be in this place.

Categories: Literary Pilgrimages | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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