My husband David gave me a nudge the other day.
Earlier in the spring we’d talked about scheduling a summer getaway. But what with one thing and another, no dates were set. We’re each in the midst of projects that will keep us close to home in the coming months. It was hard to wrap our minds around the idea of pulling away even for a weekend.
But David knows that unless we actually block off dates and make reservations, the next time we come up for air, the summer could be gone. Hence the nudge to get out my calendar and focus.
We scouted events online, found the right weekend, drew lines from the Friday to the Monday on our calendars, booked a room, and bought tickets. We’ll drive, ride a ferry, and take city buses. We’ll go to a concert and a ball game. We’ll walk city streets and revisit old haunts. Then we’ll come home and plunge back into the fray.
A simple summer getaway. Can the good effects of such a short trip stay with me in the weeks that follow? Can these few days also be my summer pilgrimage?
Yes, they can, if I set out with intention, embrace the journey, and come home transformed.
Below are a few practical suggestions to help turn any outing—even a day at the park—into a summer pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage is a journey toward meaning.
- Start with intention. In contrast to a goal. which is something met in the future, an intention is a quality or focus that you carry along the way. The intention of pilgrimage might be to find healing and rest, to fulfill a spiritual goal, or to discern the answer to a dilemma. I expect my intentions for our summer getaway will be pretty basic, along the lines of rest and renewal. I’ll be more likely to find what I seek if I’m fully aware of what it is. Before setting out, consider and turn your intention over until it feels true. Then write it down and carry it with you.
- Embrace the journey. Going on pilgrimage means letting go of familiar places, patterns, and comforts to make room for new life. To embrace the journey, think about how you will give voice or form to what happens on the road. Will you journal? Sketch? Write a letter to a friend? I’ll take my nature journal with me on our weekend getaway. Noting down details of the landscape and weather, making a quick sketch of a weed, leaf, or bug, I forget the tasks waiting at home and enter fully into the experience of the moment at hand. At the same time, I create a lasting memory to take back with me.
- Return transformed. The pilgrim who is willing to be surprised is also open to be changed. Each encounter on the road has the potential become a story to savor, if entered into with a whole and open heart. Think about how you will share your stories when you return home. You might plan a celebration with family and friends around a special meal. You might decide to tell your stories to a single soul-friend over tea. You might simply revisit your original intention by writing about it in your journal. I’m already looking forward to conversations about our adventure after we return, and to revisiting the moments in my journal.
The point of traveling is not
to arrive but to return home
laden with pollen you shall work up
into honey the mind feeds on.
Wishing you adventure and new life in all your summer travels,