A few years ago, CNN Travel wrote an article titled, “7 Secular Pilgrimages That Could Change Your Life.” I, for one, was excited to see what places the secular crowd deemed to be life-changing. And yet as I devoured the article, ironically, all seven suggestions were historic holy sites from various world religions.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
Not one site of the seven was a “secular” pilgrimage. I guess the thought was, “A pilgrimage is what you make of it… or don’t, for that matter.”
What a very postmodern idea!
These seven “sacred” pilgrim-ways which were offered to “secular” people as nothing more than a source of good exercise. Seriously. Says the writer: “One man’s pilgrimage is another’s good walk.”
But the writer made a mistake. In trying to help “secular” people from “sacred” traditions (like pilgrimage), the author made a mistake of assumption. But the author shouldn’t feel too badly, this “mistake of assumption” is the same logical fallacy often made by many otherwise-wise religious folk:
There is no true division between what is sacred and secular.
It is a false dichotomy. Read the Bible; this makes complete sense. If God is the creator and sustainer of all, then all of creation is sacred. It is all connected to God and serves a religious and holy purpose. Don’t forget, the world started out in a perfect garden… and if you have read the back of the book, you know that it ends that way again.
In God’s world, there is no sacred or secular. All is holy and a part of His revelation of Himself to us.
Perhaps the writer realized this while trying to find “secular” pilgrim destinations; perhaps the writer realized that there is really no such thing and just encouraged people-of-little-faith to ignore the fact that you can’t take a walk—for any reason or to any place—without it being enacted within a holy environment.
Even a long walk to a non-holy site by an unbeliever must be understood to be, in some sense, a holy pilgrimage… i.e., a path on which the divine is experienced. Even the path itself is a gift of the creator, not to mention the ability to walk it.Pilgrimages aren't just for the religious, but each step brings every pilgrim closer to the God. Click To Tweet
If you are interested, here is the list:
- Kumano Ancient Trail, Japan
- Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
- Mount Kailash Pilgrimage, Tibet
- Camino de Santiago, Spain
- Pilgrims’ Way to Canterbury, England
- Croagh Patrick, Ireland
- Char Dham, India
PRACTICE: Identify the destination of a pilgrimage that you might like to one day take. Post a picture and explanation on Facebook or some other social media. Note the reactions you receive.