A pilgrimage in the traditional sense is a trip with a singular purpose, devoted to an idea or cause to which one pays homage. These journeys can be for religious or personal reasons, or for causes beyond out casual realization. We may be pilgrims without thinking of ourselves as such. Nevertheless, the pilgrimage is as intrinsically human as near-anything I can think of.

At its most familiar, a pilgrimage is weekly attendance at any worship services in a church, synagogue, or mosque. This is of course a religious pilgrimage. Many make a trek, long or short, to this designated place of spiritual meaning and connection. A church like any structure or place can only carry the psychic weight we imbue upon it. We hold it valuable, and connective, and thus make a point of spending some length of time there.

As a child I often drove with my grandfather Glenn Frye for biscuits and gravy at the Korner Cafe at the junction of US36 and K15, just south of Morrowville. We sat in the same two stools and enjoyed the unhealthy yet delicious sausage gravy over thawed biscuits. Of course we ate because we were hungry, but we traversed the ten highway miles for the ritual and experience. It was an opportunity to connect and appreciate each other as family.

As an adult I find myself drawn to the sprawling landscapes and red-tinged soil of Oklahoma. This was the homeland of my mother and her branch of my family. The Duncans spend the generations stretching from the land run and through the great depression’s desperation in the hills and dales of the state’s western reaches. Though now I can only eat okra and decorate graves, it holds a deeper connective meaning to me and I treat it with deferrence, and reverence.

I have a coworker that holds dear the sites, sounds, and smells of New Orleans and the cajun coast. He dwells on its delights and sharing the wonders. Though I joke he is a spokesman for the Louisiana tourism bureau, I can online image the intensity of the sway the place wields over him. His pilgrimages to the place to few, but each greatly appreciated.

What is a pilgrimage but an important and chosen habit? Everyone has some experiential place they hold dear, though they may little recognize it. The trip versus destination dichotomy applies here manifold. The trip is the destination AND vice versa. Luxuriate in that which is holy to you and impart it on others. Respect the pilgrimages of our forebearers and build new ones. The pilgrim in all of us yearns to be justly heard.

%d bloggers like this: