In the next few posts I want to explore the actual process of pilgrimage, or, to put it another way, the activities or stages that go to make up the total experience of pilgrimage.
And because the underlying theme here is about life as pilgrimage, I intend to begin with the process of an actual, physical and geographical pilgrimage and then to move on to how we might interpret that process as experiences and activities in our 24/7/365 lives.
Most writers seem to suggest that there are 5 stages to the experience of pilgrimage, and I want to suggest a 6th stage that may be implicit in the normal 5 but is worth spelling out.
A physical pilgrimage is a circular activity: one begins at home and, unless death or an urge to settle somewhere along the route of the pilgrimage occurs, at the end of the pilgrimage one returns home, with:
Something to bring back to show you have been there:a lock of God’s hair, stolen from Him while He was alseep; a photograph of the garden of the spirit. As has been said, the point of travelling is not to arrive but to return home laden with pollen you shall work up into honey the mind feeds on.
‘Souvenirs’ by R S Thomas
This diagram shows the 6 stages that I will be working with: