March 9, 2022

Pilgrimage: a journey towards spiritual enlightment

Reaching into the deepest parts of what makes us human—the spirit—a pilgrimage puts feet to spiritual reflection in light of human history.

Pilgrimage: a journey towards spiritual enlightment
By
Fr. Nathan Carr

Healthy culture has always had its way of developing patterns of life that preserve the rich memory of the past for possibility of soul-enlarging meaning of the present.  You find these patterns in everything from how a particular culture takes the first meal of the day, to the ways in which transportation responds to the peculiar layout of a countryside.  Some roads barrel through the topography; others weave with hills.  In every moment, something is learned of how a culture understands its place and purpose in the world.

Pilgrimage is yet another way of responding to the cultural landscape into which we are born.  Reaching into the deepest parts of what makes us human—the spirit—a pilgrimage puts feet to spiritual reflection in light of human history.  Pilgrimage identifies the places of profound spiritual inflection the world over (and the often ancient people to whom we owe that tribute), and walks that out in pursuit of the same spiritual enlightenment that gave us even our most simple understanding of a life lived before something as grand as what we aptly call ‘God’.

I have found that students in particular are among the best pupils and understudies for this great undertaking that we call pilgrimage. Always wishing it could be longer, even a week of putting over 3000 years of human spiritual history under foot covers as much ground as a hundred self-help videos on your favorite spiritualist guru on YouTube.  I shall never forget, for example, the bitter cold that stained our cheeks red as we climbed the precipitous incline up to Trinity Monastery high above Trevi.  The cave smells of a thousand years of incense—a good reminder that prayer not only sounds like something, but smells like something (a reminder marked both at the very beginning and the very end of the Christian Scriptures).  

To these simple, oft-forgotten, back-alley sights of spiritual Everests, Alithea Travel will forever pay tribute.  And not just as a reach for God, but for a return to ourselves.  Sometimes you’ll fly halfway around the world to finally discover how your soul has been made to function the entire time.

Fr. Nathan Carr

Fr. Nathan Carr is the headmaster and visionary of the Academy of Christian Classical Studies. He is committed to shaping the affections, hearts, and minds of students to a deeper understanding of the beautiful and the true.

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