Summer Pilgrimages

As the summer approaches, many of us are thinking about travel. Some of us are planning trips across time zones, over mountains and seas, and some of us are thinking of shorter journeys to destinations closer by. Others of us have no plans at all to leave home behind this summer. Our travels will be of the simplest sort: from the front door to the supermarket, from the kitchen to the bedroom. But no matter how far or how short the journey, the intention and the attitude that we bring to it matters.

I do more traveling in books and movies than I do in planes and cars. In the film 2 Days in Paris, the leader of an American tour group overhears a stranger speaking American English. She approaches him to ask for directions to the Louvre; she and her friends are visiting sites featured in their favorite novel, The Da Vinci Code. She asks her fellow American for help saying, ‘We’ve got to stick together; these French people can be so rude.’ He agrees; he also gives her bad directions as a punishment for her boorishness.

There is an approach to travel that’s based on acquiring things: do this, see that, buy this, and then you’re done. But to really experience a place; somewhere you’ve never been before, or somewhere you visit every week, requires a different orientation. Rather than thinking of ourselves as tourists, we would do better to imagine that we are pilgrims. Our tradition as Unitarian Universalists teaches that there is holiness to be found in every person, in every moment, and in every location. So it is more than purple

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say that each person we meet is a prophet, each moment that passes, a festival, each place that we visit, a shrine. To live with this awareness makes each of us pilgrims in the world. Journeying from one source of wonder to another, blessing the Earth with our footsteps.

If it sounds like a terribly hard sort of outlook to maintain, that’s because it is. Each day, I forget a hundred times how marvelous and beautiful the world that I inhabit is. But just because we keep forgetting, does not mean we should ever stop trying to remember. So wherever this summer takes you, I would wish for you a pilgrim’s grace. Feel the warmth of the soil in communion with your garden. Use the time waiting beside the baggage carousel to give thanks for a safe arrival, a new place to be with new blessings to receive. Count the steps from your car door to the laundromat’s threshold; you are there to make soiled things clean, after all.

Make space in your heart for wonder, in the coming months. In July and August, we will observe a summer hiatus, meeting for worship only every other week. When we return together as a community in September, bring what the summer has taught you. I look forward to the many gifts that we will share.


In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson



First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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