We’ve talked in this space before about being lost, both literally and figuratively. We haven’t had much to say about the wanderings that may have gotten us to that point. But here’s the thing. As J.R.R. Tolkien famously put it, “Not all those who wander are lost.” It’s a line that comes from a poem that appears in Tolkien’s first book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost
Wandering can be aimless, but can also be with a purpose. It can also lead you to places you didn’t intend when you set out and didn’t expect when you arrived there. There’s another moment toward the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, when Frodo is recalling a particular piece of advice he’d received from his uncle, Bilbo: “‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
And that’s what we’re thinking about this week. Indeed, we’re going to talk about a very specific kind of wandering, one with a purpose but which can land you where didn’t expect to wind up. We’re talking about a pilgrimage.
An article from Earth & Altar Magazine is our inspiration for this week’s topic. In it the author says that we can sometimes think about the trajectory of our lives as a kind of pilgrimage. And then she asks the kinds of questions we’re going to explore:
The concept of life as a pilgrimage has been discussed before, but what does that really look like in the day-to-day? What, or where, is our pilgrimage when the dishes are piled high in the sink, and the kids are squabbling, the meetings and to-do lists seem endless, and our overstimulated brains beg us for some binge-watching just so they can get a break? Then it’s time to go to bed so we can try to sleep so we can get up and do it all again. Our lives can feel as though they are on fast-forward if we don’t intentionally step out of them from time to time and examine them. A pilgrimage is about intention. As Debra Dean Murphy said in a recent article for the Christian Century, “Then and now, to make a pilgrimage is to walk not only in time and space but in a story.”
So what kind of pilgrimages have you been on, whatever that means for you? What kind of pilgrimage do you long to do? If a pilgrimage is a kind of wandering with intention, what is it we are looking for when go on one? And, just as importantly, do we have the patience to notice it when we find it?
We’ll talk about all this, and probably more, in our conversation this week. Join us for the discussion beginning at 7 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 313 Pizza Bar on Flint Street in downtown Lake Orion.