Are you a pilgrim or a tourist?
Tourists want everything to go exactly as they have planned and imagined it. They rush around making sure they cram everything in. They’re constantly buying souvenirs and knickknacks, many of which they will look at whenthey get home and wonder, “What was I thinking?” They focus on themselves, often shoving past others to get where they’re going. Tourists go sightseeing. Tourists count the cost.
Pilgrims are very different. They look for signs. If a flight gets delayed or canceled, they ask, “What is God trying to say to me?” Pilgrims aren’t concerned with seeing and doing everything, just the things they feel called to see and do. They’re not obsessed with shopping. They are aware of others’ needs. Pilgrims look for meaning. Pilgrimscount their blessings.
Life is a pilgrimage, a sacred journey. Typically, a pilgrimage takes us to a shrine or another location important to a person’s faith or beliefs. You can make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, the Camino, or any of the famous Catholic sites around the world. Very often people make pilgrimages with special intentions in mind. Some ask God for a favor, perhaps to heal a loved one who is sick. Others make a pilgrimage in thanksgiving for a blessing they’ve already received from God.
Life is a pilgrimage, but sometimes you need a pilgrimage to appreciate life and all the blessings God has already granted you. We should encourage each other to be a true pilgrim, without complaining if every small or large aspect of the trip is not to our liking. Focus on God, who is calling you on the pilgrimage and the blessing of life, rather than on the negative and the inconvenience which may come with travel and going to foreign lands.
Let’s pray for the grace to be true pilgrims and not just tourists. Let’s pray for the grace to be the kind of friend who inspires and helps others in the pilgrimage of life.
A pilgrim is not a tourist.
A pilgrim is not a pious tourist. A pilgrim and a tourist may follow the same itinerary, but the pilgrim is on a sacred journey in which God is encountered through places, people and situations.
The tourist sees sights, discovers new places, learns interesting facts, takes photographs and accumulates souvenirs. The tourist returns home the same person as the one who left, save perhaps for a broadened mind.
The pilgrim also discovers new places and appreciates the beauty of a site but more important gains insights and discerns new truths about oneself. The outcome of the pilgrimage will be the transformation that has taken place inside the person. The pilgrim will return with an impression imprinted on the soul, rather than in the memory of a digital camera.
A pilgrim will leave behind business concerns
The pilgrim’s mindset is established prior to departure. Once the tasks of packing bags and checking lists havebeen completed, the pilgrim will purposefully leave behind life and business concerns in order to be open to God’spresence throughout the pilgrimage. In the words of the Rev. Peter J. Miano, founder of the Society for Biblical Studies, “Tourists pass through places,but pilgrims let places pass through them, allowing their hearts to be changed.”
A pilgrim will have an open mind
The happiest pilgrims are the most relaxed. They don’t expect everything to go smoothly. They don’t get stressedover delays, itinerary changes, lack of wash cloths, or bad weather. They tolerate difficult people; they embrace different customs and unusual foods with an open mind. The tourist may be hasty and impatient, mentally checking off sights on a to-do list. The pilgrim will be patient and considerate, remembering that the guide and tour leader is concerned for the welfare of the entire group. The pilgrim practices acceptance and tolerance at all times.
A pilgrim does not travel alone
The pilgrim is open to encounters with others in the group and seeks to build lasting relationships. The tourist may find companionship, but the pilgrim experiences community.
The pilgrim prays for the success of the pilgrimage and for other members of the group. Their focus is on prayer and reflection.
The pilgrim shows compassion, care, and concern for their fellow group travelers and for the hosts who live in the places visited.
The pilgrim respectfully listens to the guide and follows instructions.
A pilgrim respects the host country
The pilgrim treads lightly on the sacred ground and on the planet. The tourist may unknowingly trample on holy ground or intrude noisily into sacred stillness. The pilgrim is sensitive and respectful.
The pilgrim does not waste water or electricity, conscious that these are precious resources on our earth. The pilgrim disposes of rubbish appropriately, no matter how much litter lies around.
The pilgrim cherishes every moment of the pilgrimage knowing it brings them closer to God!
From the website: seetheHolyLand.net