Psalm 84 speaks of the loveliness of God’s dwelling and our desire to find and join God there. Yearning always arises in me when I hear or read the words that are so familiar. My heart and my flesh cry out for God, the Living God…Even the sparrow finds a home, your altars, O God…My response is always a wish to have the day to hide “in the shadow of God’s wing” in pure being with God. That is certainly a flight of fancy because I know myself and even if I did have a whole day with nothing pressing to do, I probably wouldn’t be able to be quiet and attentive. Only if I go on a retreat, a dedicated time and place that others share but spend in silence, am I more likely to allow myself to bask in God’s presence.
In a commentary that I read this morning, the author speaks of this as one of the “pilgrimage psalms” – which fits my reflection above. He talks about the tradition, common in many religious traditions, of “going on pilgrimage” and speaks of the possibility of both an outer and an inner pilgrimage. Of the former he says: Have you ever felt the need, or made such a pilgrimage yourself? This may simply have been in the form of returning to a wonderful spot on earth where you had previously found rest and refreshment of soul. It is important to find such places. In fact, “mini pilgrimages” can be made to places of sanctuary and retreat throughout the weeks and months of our lives. He then turns to the image of an inner pilgrimage saying: The outer pilgrimage often reflects something far deeper, an inner journey across the desert landscape of the soul to find the face of God.
And so I consider those concepts this morning, knowing that if I had the possibility of teleportation I would be sitting at the ocean writing these words, as the ocean is always a place of peace and sanctuary for me. Absent that, however, I will sit on my mat and conjure the beauty of a deserted beach, attempt to feel the salty spray and dive into meditation, hoping for some moments of serenity in God’s presence.
Where will your pilgrimage take you today?