1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage?
Pilgrimage for me is a journey of learning and faith-growing in companionship with someone whose differences teach me more about the kingdom of God and about Christ. I think back to a mission trip to Mexico years ago, and how affirming that time was, and how much I learned and changed in that trip. And I believe the wonderful folks with whom we worked got more than some co-laborers out of the trip, too.
2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage.
Iona will do nicely. I am attracted to Celtic spirituality and monastic sites. I had a fun tour around Augsburg and Bavaria a couple of years ago...fun to trace the history and see the symbols and architecture change. So much to learn...
3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience?
Don't need much stuff. A friend taught me the 3 bag model: bag of books, bag of clothes, bag of food--this is great for personal retreats (especially when I pair it with a trunkload of camping supplies). For pilgrimage, clothes, camera & film, water, Bible, journal...that ought to cover it.
4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about thisclose to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer)
Rich Mullins, who I often refer to as my favorite dead singer-songwriter. He was deeply connected to the land but also cried out for roots and community in his faith. He was a missionary, even while making records, to Native American communities. And oh, could he turn a phrase: "Surrender don't come natural to me; I'd rather fight you for something I don't really want, than take what you give that I need. And I've beat my head against so many walls, that I'm falling down and falling on my knees...And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn, and your grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistance seem so thin. So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf. You have been king of my glory, won't you be my Prince of Peace?"
5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don't mind me, I'll be over here taking notes)
It would be kind of tacky for me to say "journaling" since this blog (7 months old now) is the longest sustained effort I've ever made at journaling, and it's only occasionally what I'd call "spiritual". But photographs connect with me, and the songs I associate with strong emotion flood me with those feelings again, even years later. I think it has to do with how you are changed, and finding the ways that most deeply speak to you about who you become as a result of your journey...a souvenir, a song, a new favorite food, a picture, a poem...but make it a part of who you are and will be.