I am a pilgram, and a stranger.
Day 171 / 1054 Miles
“I am a pilgrim, and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land.
I’ve got a home in that yonder city, lord
And it’s not made, not made by hand.”
Some followers may recognize this 1943 hymn by Merle Travis that I thought fitting for this week’s musing. Until a relative and mentor (Phil Kuhn) suggested it, I’d never really believed my daily ploddings to be spiritual but just maybe, perhaps, they are. Unlike an excursion by car or plane, where we’re mere passengers, or taking a walk as a means to an end (like fetching the mail), wandering is for exploration, for discovery of the outside, and (more importantly) within. Doctors swear by it too. (“Doctors do”!). A daily outside journey comprised -only- of setting a course & setting out, arriving at station, then it’s homeward bound, and a grateful return, has a purpose beyond walking-as-transportation. We head out on foot and later return to the point of origin. Like a Buddhist Kora, where a monk beats a path round and around a stone, a mountain, or circuitous trail, he offers his toil as a tithe to Buddha. However, most treks of walkers the world over are not fueled by piety and are unguided by tenants of a world religion. Countless walkers take on arduous journeys with a seriousness that rises to a level of sanctity. Walkers move in their own cadence of placing a foot, followed by the lifting of the other, to make meaning for themselves – some in short simple routes and some by long complex ones, ultimately returning home. Such journeys give meaning, and give joy. By very definition, they are pilgrimages.
However, sweating in a gymnasium, like the fitness buff playing the role of Sisyphus pushing the rock up an inclined treadmill, shouldn’t be conflated with the caloric offering of a religious pilgrimage. Walkers too expend energy, but to travel and engage our soles to earth, our eyes with novelties, and with the people we meet on our way. Whether the path is the familiar daily walking loop or following the wandering Jew, each day’s journey becomes a small pilgrimage, not driven solely by wanderlust but in service to Saint Jerome and Saint Eddie.
Poof, I’m a Pilgrim!
Walk with me brother. Walk with me sister. Walk with me.
This weeks quote: “Lift is created by the onwards rush of life over the curved wing of the soul” – Robert Macfarlane