Many people, whether religious or not, are finding that journeying to and exploring special places is not only enjoyable but offers fresh perspectives on their daily lives. Some focus on the journey; others focus on the destination. However long or short the journey and however you choose to travel, stepping outside daily life, even for a short time, can be an inspiring adventure. Here are some thoughts from people who have tried it.
Why is pilgrimage helpful?
' Pilgrimage is a chance to stand back from life and see what's important.'
'You have time to think, to pray. Sometimes answers break through like a shaft of sunlight.'
'I found peace, prayer and time.'
'[Visiting a cathedral] always brings a sense of peace, reward, fulfilment.'
'Although the building was busy, there was space (in all its meanings) for quiet.'
'The wonder of the building, the moving service, the sense of time, history, and place, all added to my everyday faith and worship.'
'I struggle with mobility and can’t manage a walking pilgrimage, so I came on a wheelchair pilgrimage within the Cathedral instead! It was very moving, and I prayed at locations connected to Cuthbert, Bede and the northern saints. I lit candles to symbolise my prayers for my friends and family on their pilgrimage in life and faith.'
'As the days moved forward one after the other, the internal journey subtly began. Without even at first realising it, in the rhythm of the movement of my body and with only my thoughts to keep me company, the hours of walking cleared a great space within me.
All the while the internal journey flowed within me like a stream in my memory. Literally, the multitudes that have contributed to my life's journey became a sea of individual faces with specific names in identifiable places. I encountered them again and I thanked those I had never thanked, were they living or dead.
With each interior encounter, forgotten relationships were renewed and the many pieces that had built my life were rediscovered. A stonemason was at work within me, refitting the stones and sealing them into a more solid structure within.'
'Reaching the goal exceeded my expectations ... gave me a feeling of tranquillity and a safe place of reflection.'
'I walked to Durham along one of the new Northern Saints Trails. I loved following the waymarkers, meeting fellow pilgrims, and praying for the places I passed through. I arrived to a brilliant welcome at the Cathedral and finished my pilgrimage with a prayer at the Shrine of St Cuthbert.'
'Our pilgrimage took three days … We have just retired and used it as an opportunity to ease into a new chapter of life and to listen to what God may be saying to us. We had our feet washed when we arrived at the Cathedral and that was very poignant. We were prayed for by name at Evensong and that was very special.'
'This is the first time I’ve ever been inside a church. It was marvellous! When I go back to London, I’m going to find a church to go to.'
'I have never been on pilgrimage before but enjoy the challenge of a long journey. I know I’ll meet interesting people along the way and am interested to see what else I may learn too!'