Pilgrimage: The journey to remembering our story by Andrew Jones
The age-old practice of pilgrimage is more popular today than it has been for centuries. At a time when the Church - indeed, Christianity itself - seems increasingly exiled and estranged from our culture, more and more people are treading the ancient pilgrim routes, whether they are committed Christians, spiritual seekers or simply curious. And the renewal and refreshment of faith that they find on their journey often outweighs what happens in many churches. In this book, Andrew Jones shows how pilgrimage has the power to awaken those at all stages of belief to remembering the story of God's creating and redeeming work in history, the story that tells us who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. The act of remembering it not only offers a life-transforming way out of exile but points to the way home, to the place where we can live an authentic and balanced life. The book concludes with a focus on eight popular places of pilgrimage in the British Isles, drawing out lessons from their history and spiritual heritage that can encourage and inspire us on our own faith journeys. Andrew Jones writes: More people than ever before are going on retreats. Many of them are not those who attend church every Sunday and almost all of them are seeking space, time and fellowship for rest, peace, breathing space, perspective and spirituality. These are the things that enable the mind and heart to be joined in that inner place where God is present to every human being. All of us have this inner place; a retreat is an opportunity for a given group of people to discover that place, gently and carefully, in an environment of peace and beauty. Similarly, pilgrimage has been at the heart of human spirituality since the beginning of time. Today, many people are searching for those traditions that inspired early Christians, particularly at times when the faith was vibrant. The increasing pilgrimage traffic shows that modern-day Christians are rediscovering the historical importance and significance of pilgrimage - it's an experience that often provides that vital link between the inner journey of the heart and the outer pilgrimage of life. In my new book Pilgrimage: the journey to remembering our story I explore how pilgrimage wakens people at all stages of belief to remembering the story of God's creating and redeeming work in history. It helps to tell us who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. I also make the claim that the contemporary church seems increasingly and tragically exiled and estranged from our culture. Significantly, this act of remembering - pivotal to pilgrimage - not only offers a life-transforming way out of that exile situation but points to the way 'home'. Many places of pilgrimage beckon and draw not only people but also that inner place within people. They are described by some as 'thin places' - where the boundary between heaven and earth hardly exists at all! Bringing the experience of retreat, pilgrimage and that worrying exile place that much of the contemporary church finds itself in together could prove transfiguring and transforming. It may even be an opportunity for our own faith and Christian discipleship to be refreshed and challenged.