In the recent publication of my article entitled “Day Camper or Pilgrim?”, my friend who was doing the layout chose to illustrate the piece with a Pilgrim hat. You know, one of those conical hats with the wide brims that our kids wear in Thanksgiving pageants as an ode to the Plymouth colonists. Well, there are Pilgrims and then there are pilgrims.
The earliest use of the term refers to one who is on a religious journey to a holy place. The practice is common in many world religions, especially in Islam where every devout Muslim desires to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once. The word has also been used to refer to our time here on earth. The idea is that we are just sojourners here on the way to something better.
Of course, the historical Pilgrims or Pilgrim Fathers, the ones with the hats, were religious dissenters who founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1620. They are often called Puritans because of their desire for a pure faith apart from the established church in England. They were on a pilgrimage to religious freedom.
I used the term in the article with the sense of Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, in which he reflects on the Songs of Ascents in the Hebrew psalter. These were songs sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem.
My conviction is that Christ has called us to be on a journey with Him. This is not a sprint but a marathon. On this pilgrimage, we can discover more about Him as well as more about ourselves. This is also preparation for the eternal pilgrimage we will experience with God. The journey goes on!