Your Life | Road Trip or Pilgrimage?

Over the years I traveled a lot.  For a few years I logged over 100,000 miles in the air.   I like to travel and experience new things, cultures, foods, sights and most of all people.   A couple of years ago I found myself on an adventure in the month of March in the Arctic in the Northwest Territory of Canada, working with the Inuit people.  It was an amazing, new landscape; Ice Roads, Northern Lights, Dog Sledding, eating Caribou stew and so much more.   I will carry that experience in my heart and mind all my life.

Life can be full of moments of adventure.  I want to draw a distinction here between a road-trip and a pilgrimage.   We have a culture of road trip mentality for the most part.  We take a vacation, we want to rest, play, see the sights and have new experiences.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

A pilgrimage can be all those things but it has one element more.  We have the experiences but the adventure brings about a change in us.  We go intentionally into a moment, a place, an event with the knowledge that if I give myself to this it will yield a change in my heart, my thinking, how I see the world.

When I was in the Arctic, it was an adventure with several “bucket list” moments but what I remember most are the people I met and spent time with.  They told me their stories; their dreams and hopes, their fears and failures.  I remember Daniel and his playful manner.  I think of Bertha and Travis and how they were laboring for their family and community; they wanted to make a difference.

Yeah, I’ll never forget seeing the northern lights!  What a road-trip!  But the people and connections made it a pilgrimage and I walked away different, better and changed.

How are you living moments with intention, connection and discover why you are here?

Markers and Moments… Part 2

I remember vividly the first time we went to the beach and I saw the ocean.  I was 10 years old.  The vastness of the sea, the motion and cadence of the waves were mesmerizing.  It made and impression.

That is a marker in life; a moment that makes a lasting impression.  Ask a baby boomer and they will tell you where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated.  We all can remember that terrible moment 17 years ago when planes crashed into buildings  on a sunny Tuesday morning, September 11th 2001.

Tragedies, losses, failures along with joyful moments of weddings and births, successes and accomplishments are markers in life. They cause us to pause, to reflect and consider the breadth of all life is.

In these moments we are rarely alone or in a vacuum. Often the most memorable, the most sacred moments are one we shared with family and friends, with communities and even nations.  A good life is not measured in what we acquire or the cash in our accounts.  There is nothing wrong with setting goals and being productive and prosperous.  But a good life, a fruitful life is more.

I find by taking an inventory every so often of where I am, where I am going and who is with me is the best way to keep me focused and moving in the right direction.  Reflecting on markers and moments and the companions along the way is like a GPS recalculating my route to help me get where I am suppose to be.

We see this in the Abbey Life.  Being a part of a missional community helps us to refresh and renew, gain insight and perspective and prepare themselves for what is next.  The Abbey becomes a partner to help a person become the best they can be.

Markers and Moments…

As we travel, be it on an extended road trip or just through life, we experience markers and moments.

I like to drive.  It’s therapeutic for me. A few times a year I take a 10-12 hour road trip to the mountains in Western North Carolina. Along the way there are markers that let me know I am getting close to my destination.

The last hour of my journey takes me into higher elevations. The landscape and terrain change. Rolling hills become mountains.  I find myself thousands of feet above the almost sea level existence I have in Florida.

On this trip, I am joined by life-long friends, who in many ways are partners in my life. We encourage one another in conversation.  We share insights and thoughts about the current realities where we find ourselves in terms of vocations, family, goals, etc.  Their investment and interaction with me is a valuable treasure as I gain perspectives and see things differently.

These friends have shared markers and moments with me and I with them. We are together in our successes and failures, joys and sorrows; in all life is.  If I am the driver, they act as navigator and vice-versa as we move along in the journey of life.   We see these friendships / partnerships formed in the Abbey Life.

In the creation account in Genesis we find these words; It is not good for man to be alone. Thus God created a partner for the man Adam in the person of Eve.  We learn again that we are better together.

Reflection:  Consider the marker moments in your life (Graduations, Promotions, Marriage, Children, etc.)  Think about the people with whom you shared these moments.  Maybe give them a call or drop them a note – reconnect; you’ll be glad you did.

Falling Off The Grid

Twice a year I take a week-long personal retreat.  It is a luxury I have at this stage of my life.  I have discovered a quiet hermitage nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina.  I typically go in the Spring and the Fall.  (living in Florida I miss the four seasons – here we only have two – Hot and Not So Hot)

The landscape comforts me. The crisp air, the aroma of a fire burning in the fireplace, a stack of books to read, wrapping my fingers around the neck of my D-41 Martin, whittling on the front porch.  Each time I am there I discover new things.  It is an intentional act of falling off the grid.  I unplug from the normal routines and tasks and enter what for me is a sacred space of reflection, prayer, writing and creativity.

We need time to unplug from the 24/7 constant media feed life can become.   We need a level of silence and solitude that keeps us healthy in body, mind, soul and spirit.  We need to look in the mirror every so often, examine our lives and gain perspective on where we have been, where we are and where we are going.  Does life need a course correction?  To ask these questions we must remove ourselves from the ordinary and enter a new and welcoming space where we can see and hear differently.

The hermitage time lets me hear a different cadence.  It forces me to alter my pace, pay attention and focus.  Without these moments life could just amble by year after year until 10 or 20 years pass and I have not grown as a person.  So if I were a doctor I would prescribe for everyone some hermitage time a couple of weeks each year.  For many that is a prescription you could not take or have filled.  If that is you there is good news…

You can learn to practice this idea of retreat everyday.  Some days, a few minutes maybe an hour or more enter what I would call a holy rest a place of divine peace. BE STILL.  Stop the barrage of information.  Gather yourself, your thoughts to discover for a moment what is truly important and essential.  We are encouraged to:

Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Doing this will assist in clearing the clutter and living life to the fullest.


Growing up I always had a roof over my head and food on the table.  That makes me very rich when compared to seventy-five percent of the world.  We had all we needed and then some, the necessities of life were all accounted for at 28 Mimosa Drive.  Maslow’s hierarchy of need tells us that when the most basic needs of life are not met, it’s hard to think about the other things of life.  If you belong to that fortunate twenty-five percent who doesn’t worry about where you will lay your head tonight or where your next meal will come from then pause for a moment and be grateful.

While your physical need for safety, food and shelter may be met, there are other provisions that are vital to creating a deep sense of well-being,  take love for example.  Growing up, I knew without a shadow of doubt that I was loved.  When I think about it, this is the greatest inheritance my parents gave me.  Their love gave me confidence to be who I am.  I was far from perfect but I endeavored to be a good son, student, friend; not so my parents would love me but because I knew they already did love me.  I did my chores, sometimes reluctantly but I did them because I loved my Mom and Dad and they loved me.

There is a lot lacking in this world.  Politicians and pundits are quick to point out the shortcomings of our culture and society.  We can criticize “the Haves” and pity “the Have-nots”.  I am reminded often of a quote from Mother Teresa;

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.

So how can we fill the gap of this poverty of love?  What can you do to provide kindness and compassion to people you encounter every day?  If you are willing to make a difference; to give, serve, embrace and touch then you make the world a little more like home.