4. Yahweh’s preference for the nomads is understandable. Yahweh, whenever and in whatever guise he appeared, was a traveller. There are things about the nomad’s life that embody Yahweh’s values and character: life on the edges; indiscriminate and costly hospitality; solidarity with the marginalised (most of the nomad’s time is spent outside main centres and in the company of peripheral people); intimate relationships with humans and the environment; a new view at every step; the loosest possible hold on possessions. And although many nomadic societies are hierarchical, there’s an inevitable democracy among travellers. When everyone walks, no one’s king and everyone’s king. But let’s not get to romantic about the margin-people. They still need salvation. They’re just likely to find it easier to grasp than centre-people do. It’s notoriously hard for poor little rich boys to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Charles Foster, The Sacred Journey, p XIV
A nomad/pilgrim isn’t necessarily marginalised or poor, but it’s true that they will often be found in the presence of the poor and the marginalised. Whether or not they have any chance of really identifying is questionable. When you are sleeping rough because you choose to, rather than because you must, when your money belt holds currency and cards, when you have the means to eat, drink and find shelter your solidarity is questionable. However, I guess the pilgrim may choose, for a while, to leave such securities behind and truly learn how to be content with very little or to freely share all that they have with those in need.
And maybe, just maybe, leaving those things behind will make it more possible to hear the voice of God and to begin to exhibit the values and characteristics Foster writes about.