I am a big fan of synchronicity, the connection that can be found between randomly occurring events; I experienced one such unexpected moment recently. I serve on the sabbatical committee at church, helping the congregation travel the days to come while our minister goes on the sabbatical. The day after one of our meetings, I caught a program on PBS entitled “Sacred Journeys”. Produced in 2014, the host, Bruce Feiler, explores the experience of pilgrimage in several of the world’s religions.
Pilgrimage is about both the journey and the destination. It is about removing oneself from the usual experiences of everyday life to seek out a place where the unseen and unheard can be felt. Each pilgrim journeys for their own reasons, but as Bruce Feiler states “It is an experience that you cannot do alone. You must experience the suffering and support of others as part of the journey.”
Pilgrimage is not part of the Unitarian Universalist theology, at least not that I am aware. People may go to Boston, MA, to see the headquarters of the UUA or to Tulsa, OK to see one of the nation’s largest UU congregations, but there is no one place that we endow with sacred power. As it says in one of our hymns, “…ours is a religion that, like sunshine, goes everywhere.” We have a direct line to the awe and wonder that imbues the entire planet. Unitarian Universalism allows me to be intimately acquainted with the sacredness of life. For this I am grateful.
I have come to think of my weekly attendance as church as a very small personal pilgrimage. I am reminded weekly that I am not alone in my quest for meaning and I find that the diversity of others serves only to enrich my experience. The community of seekers that I find on Sunday mornings reminds me that we are all connected to each other. Everyone, everywhere.
Our minister has planned some very specific destinations for her sabbatical time; the time for our congregation is not as clear. We know only when we will start and when we will end. What is certain is that we will go together, supporting one another as we go. For me, that is enough to make the journey worthwhile. See you in church.
“I have come to think of my weekly attendance as church as a very small personal pilgrimage. I am reminded weekly that I am not alone in my quest for meaning and I find that the diversity of others serves only to enrich my experience. The community of seekers that I find on Sunday mornings reminds me that we are all connected to each other. Everyone, everywhere.” This really connected with me. Since I travel quite a bit and miss several services in succession several times a year, that first time back has the feel of “pilgrimage” for me.
Beautifully expressed, Karen. You captured so well why I enjoy coming to the Sunday services each week.
Great post. I so appreciate the insight so graciously shared by the authors of this blog. Peter and I have returned to Athens and will miss seeing each of you regularly, though we may stop in from time to time. We look forward to becoming active members of the Unitarian Church here – and we thank you for the warm welcome and support we found in UUCG.