Running as a Pilgrimage?
Okay, so Wednesday my blog was a little on the short side. As I was reflecting on these two chapters I was somewhat struggling with the sacramental running aspect. It just wasn’t clicking for me at first, but after spending some time re-reading and reflecting it became clearer to me and as I put the words in writing I knew I needed to just sit with that and not rush into the next chapter. So today I want to continue with the next part which is running as a pilgrimage.
Running for me has been transformative. It has challenged me physically, mentally and spiritually and has pushed me deeper and harder than I had thought it would. As I read the chapter on running as a pilgrimage I could see the connection, then this morning after our run we talked about it. The best comparison between the two would be those who run a marathon. Training for a marathon takes you away from your daily life more and more as you put more and more hours into training, then most likely you will have to travel someplace for your marathon possibly on your own, the day of you will probably meet many others you have never met before and talk about running. When you go on a pilgrimage you disconnect from your daily life to go someplace – like the holy land, or Rome, or another holy place – you usually go with a group of people, possibly strangers or acquaintances, and you talk about what you see each day. As I read this chapter it took me back to something Matthew Kelly said in his book Resisting Happiness, when they take a group on a pilgrimage they will ask the group members if they are tourists or pilgrims as there is a vast difference. According to Kelly a pilgrim
“looks for signs. If a flight get delayed or canceled, they ask, ‘What is God trying to say to me?’ Pilgrims are not concerned with seeing and doing everything, just the things they feel called to see and do. They are not obsessed with shopping. They are aware of the needs of others. Pilgrims go looking for meaning. Pilgrims count their blessings.” (page 148)
After a pilgrimage, a pilgrim comes back to their daily life – but they have changed, they have been transformed. Four years ago I went to Guatemala for three weeks, when I returned I looked the same yet on the inside I had changed. A year into my running, you can compare pictures of me then and now and see some definite differences, but the biggest difference for me has been interior. I was talking with someone this morning about how running has changed the outside of our bodies in ways we weren’t expecting (my arms are skinnier, my shoulders are more defined, I only have one chin in pictures, etc) but the reality is that we are changing from the inside out. That’s a pilgrimage – a transformation that begins inside of us, which no one sees. When you return from your pilgrimage, your marathon, you look the same as you did when you left, to others you are the same, but now you look at the world through a different lens and eventually that interior change will cause exterior change as well.
How have you been transformed through running or through a pilgrimage of anther kind?