Would you pick up your pilgrim stick and backpack and set off on ‘The Way’?
Heck yes! I would - I definitely would! How wonderful to be on the moon looking back at the earth. Think of the perspective.
When I look through my telescope at night into the vast expanse, I marvel. I am in complete awe of our galaxy.
What’s not to marvel?
I travel, and it took a few tours of duty for me to stop using my camera to snap amazing sights over and over so I could show everyone what I had seen – a snap fest.
The most incredible sight can be viewed from any country, any continent, any place on earth – just look up into the vast expanse of the galaxy.
I had seen amazing wonders on my travels and had experiences others could only dream of. I continue to have this privilege, but the difference is that now I'm not a young person on my OE in my trainee walking boots, I'm a woman on a mission.
The insatiable desire to travel that never left me was a grace but I was thinking I had to purge a travel bug that I couldn’t shake off. I didn't worry about how I was going to afford to travel, I just made it work.
However, it was only a training ground until the time came for the real mission to begin; I just didn’t know it.
There is a difference between being a tourist and being a world traveller - a world of difference. To travel and explore is the best classroom on the planet. In the words of St Augustine: "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."
I see tourists wandering around endlessly taking photos of sights in foreign countries until they rush off to take endless photos in other countries. Who tours sees, but who travels, sees more.
I never understand the mindset of christians who go on holidays and yet don't schedule any time at all to spend one single day visiting a holy site or shrine - not one day. These are christians spending thousands on their bucket-list 'trip of a lifetime' or annual holiday and they can't give one day of that trip to the wonders or treasures of the christian world, or places of pilgrimage such as a famous healing spring that has been the instrument of miraculous cures, a church guarding the incorrupt bodies of saints famed for mysticism or stigmata, or apparition sites graced by visitations from heaven. Unbelievable!
How many people comment weeks after returning from a holiday that they don’t feel they have ever been on a holiday?
You will never hear a pilgrim make that comment - not ever.
A pilgrimage does two things; it always points to a destination and it always guides a pilgrim home. You just need to look heavenward for your sense of direction.
No matter what wonders there are to explore, you still look up and see the heavens, just as you do at home and you realise the compass always points homeward. A pilgrim understands this, and if it isn’t understood at first, it soon is.
The Southern Cross, the Crux, is the guiding compass for the traveller returning home to the southern hemisphere. I love to look up on my return home from the latest pilgrimage to see it in the familiar night sky.
Are you a tourist, a traveller or a pilgrim?
You have to decide. Why? Because it will define your experience.
Think well the next time you travel; what will come first in your priorities? the camera, the backpack or the pilgrim stick?
“Every pilgrim has a destination, even if at times he is not explicitly aware of it.”
- Pope Benedict XVI
Patricia is a pilgrim and encourages others to discover the timeless and biblical way of pilgrimage. As the pilgrim's pilgrim, she reports from the field, knowing The Way, showing The Way and going The Way.