While I was out on the Appalachian Trail for 23 days, perhaps the most common question put to me was something like this: Why are you out here?
Typically, I would tell people that I’m on a pilgrimage and that would usually prompt the next obvious question: What is a pilgrimage?
To put it mostly simply, a pilgrimage is a physical journey with a spiritual purpose. (My definition)
Others have defined ”pilgrimage” in some of these ways…
—a long journey to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion
—a spiritual quest
—a trip taken by a pilgrim, usually for religious purposes
I would also bring up the word “sabbatical” at some point because the AT hike, for me, was also part of what I would consider a ministry sabbatical. After 11+ years of college ministry, I decided to take about 5 weeks as a sabbatical to pursue spiritual renewal and guidance for future ministry & vocation.
Sabbaticals are often taken by academics or people serving in ministry. The etymology of the word is obviously connected to “sabbath” which refers to the seventh day of Creation in the Bible in which God ceases from his work and then rests. So a ministry sabbatical is a release from the routine of one’s calling in order to pursue physical, emotional, & spiritual rest for the well-being and health of the minister.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a series of posts sharing some of my experiences on the Appalachian Trail while also processing the spiritual & emotional benefits I received from this time away and the last 2 weeks of my 2020 sabbatical. Any questions and comments are welcome along the way! Feel free to make this more of a conversation than a monologue. 👍🏼
One thought on “What is a pilgrimage?”
Your tolerance, patience, and caring I can certify as bonified you were a great backpacking partner. Hope you find your fulfillment.